Cherry Picking…

It is high summer here and we are enjoying great sunny weather.

Yesterday my wife and I took a drive out to Ceres. In fact we were headed out to the Klondyke Farm that is renowned in the western Cape for their Cherry Orchards.

Each year this time they open their orchards to the public at R20 per person entrance. You are then issued with 3 containers each and off you go into the orchards to pick as many as you like. Once you are done you go to the weigh in center where they establish the exact weight of your picking. You are charged R45 per kilo. A bargain at the price. In the shops and fruit stalls they would be charging at least double that price and then the cherries are sometimes bruised and most times not even fresh. As always I believe that the local shops get the 2nd Grade fruit while the 1st grade is exported European and other markets. There is however a very good reason for that. To qualify for contribution to those markets you have to guarantee perfect delivery – no blemishes on the fruit. That is very difficult to do. Most fruit have some kind of blemish, a small scratch here or a slight bruise there. That is useless for the export market and are graded 2nd class.. They get to our shops in  very quick time so those bruises don’t really matter. If they had to export blemished fruit it is another story all together. The fruit has to be shipped in cold storage. Actual delivery to the receiving country may be weeks away. The smallest blemish has the time to develop into a full blown bruise or worse. If that happens and it reaches the quality controller of the purchaser, they would be within their rights to condemn the entire batch. Obviously that will also put future orders at risk. That is why we locals only get the 2nd grade fruit.

Some time ago I visited a large fruit packing warehouse in Ceres and I learned all about the quality control that they exercise. A government official visits the packing warehouse with the purpose of performing random checks on packed produce. He will choose a box, choose a fruit inspect it and slice it open. It any defect is found he will continue to check that pallet by opening up more boxes. If he only finds the one blemish, the chances are good that he will pass the consignment for export. But if he finds more than one instance then the entire batch is condemned. They are that serious about export quality.

But I digress. The day was meant to be fun and it most certainly was. Never mind the cost

of the fuel getting to this remote farm. Never mind the cost of the fruit itself. As a friend of mine commented, one cannot really put a monetary value on an outing like that. The fresh air, the quality time spent together hunting the perfect cherry, finally going home and eating some of the fruits of one’s labour – only one word can describe it all – priceless!

To top it all I managed to get a few good photographs to share with you. I hope you enjoy the pictures, and just maybe I can inspire you to visit Klondyke Farm next year to experience the fun we had yesterday.

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