Visiting a cucumber farm probably isn't very high on anybody's list when you talk agritourism, but I'm always up for something new. I was in the Gamtoos Valley as part of a media tour recently and Gamtoos Tourism organized for us to visit Malan Cucumbers. This isn't a technical post so I just want to tell you about the experience. We were met by the farmer and his daughter who took us on a walk around the facilities situated just outside Patensie. The first thing we got to see was the growing tunnels. The cucumbers are grown in tunnels as they grow best in a hot environment and the tunnels don't just keep it warm but also protects the plants. The cucumber plants themselves aren't grown in the earth but in bags with a special soil mix. It's also amazing to hear how quickly the actual cucumber grows when the conditions are right, up to several centimeters a day.
Next up was a visit to the packhouse. We arrived a bit late so most of the staff knocked off for the day already although a few were packing the last few vegies for the day in crates. The cucumbers come straight out the tunnels into the packhouse to be sorted and packaged. The cucumbers are then individually wrapped in plastic while the gherkins get packaged in punnets. The labels of the different supermarkets that carry their products get put on right here on the farm already so the cold storage trucks deliver them directly to the shop and onto the shelves.
Spending 30 minutes or so on a farm like this makes you appreciate what goes on behind the scenes and you realize how little you know about where the fruit and vegies in the supermarket comes from. Gives you more appreciation of what you eat next time you have that humble green salad.