Welcome to Week 8 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Field Berry Farm, a raspberry farm in Joburg’s far south.
This will be a quick #Gauteng52 post as I only visited this place briefly. But I need to tell you about Field Berry Farm before raspberry-picking season is over.
By the way, did you know that the word “raspberry” has a p in it? I didn’t, until I started writing this post and noticed the autocorrect when I typed “rasberry”.
A Quick Visit to Field Berry Farm
I stopped by Field Berry Farm a couple of weeks ago with my friend Kate, who grew up in the south of Joburg and was giving me a tour of the area. Joburg’s southern suburbs are vast, incorporating densely populated urban areas, bucolic farmland, and everything in between. (I’ll have more Joburg South posts coming soon.)
We followed Kate’s GPS along a winding country road and found ourselves in a gravel parking area, with a small warehouse to the right and a large field covered by shade netting to the left. A stout woman wearing a turban and a colorful muumuu exited the warehouse, followed by a family carrying several bags of fresh and frozen raspberries.
The woman in the muumuu was Lungiswa (Lungi) Ngqandulo, the proprietress of Field Berry Farm. Lungi took Kate and me for a brief tour of her raspberry fields and told us a little about her story.
Lungi spent many years employed on this farm as a domestic worker. After a couple of decades, when the children she looked after had grown up, her employers asked what she would like to do with the rest of her life. What Lungi wanted more than anything else, it turned out, was to grow berries, and her bosses were looking to hand over their business. Hence, Lungi became a farmer.
Farming hasn’t been easy for Lungi, especially last summer when South Africa suffered from a horrible drought. Lungi has also struggled to access government agricultural grants, which blows my mind because who in South Africa could be more deserving of a grant than this stupendous woman? Nonetheless, Lungi was clearly born to farm. I could see the joy on her face as we walked the fields.
Lungi’s farm provides raspberries to local stores, and is open to the public for weekend berry-picking during the summer season. Kate and I were there on a Friday so we didn’t officially pick berries, although we swiped quite a few as we walked. Lungi also sells frozen berries, berry jams, and berry syrups.
Picking starts in January and runs until the berries run out, usually mid-March. So get down there while the harvest is good. The farm is open for picking on Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The entrance fee is R30 (about $2.30) for adults — children under 10 get in free — and the raspberries are charged per kilogram.