Weltevrede Farm - Fig heaven in the Karoo
A farm in the Karoo grows figs for the fresh fig market, as well as dried fig products and fig jams. No sprays are used on the figs on this farm.
Where you can find it
Woolworths (during the fresh fig season)
Check the web site www.figfarm.co.za for other retailers.
By Carlin Archer
By way of chance we managed to time our stay in Prince Albert just as the local fig crops were ready for harvest. It seemed that every shop in town had some perfectly ripe fresh figs available to purchase. We had no choice but to go seek out the source of these heavenly fruits, so we tracked down Weltevrede Farm and went to explore their fig growing operation tucked away in a rustic valley a short drive outside of town.
We met with Liezl, who is the sixth generation of her family living and working on the farm - which was was one of the first to grow figs in South Africa. Her family has been there long enough to have encountered the ‘Die Hel’, a small community of self-sufficient people who settled in a remote and idyllic neighbouring valley in the past.
While the people of Die Hel have moved on, Weltevrede Farm is going strong. These days the farm focuses primarily on the figs but in the past the fruit farm was more diversified and there are remnants of this history in the fruit trees along the river: quince, pomegranate, and guavas.
There are now over 1 000 fig trees on the farm growing different varieties of figs: Adam, Cape Brown, and Genoa figs - just a drop in the ocean of the 700 odd varieties of figs in the world. You’ll find their fresh ‘Adams Figs’ at your local Woolworths store during the summer months. Their range of products also includes dry figs and fig jams (with green and ripe variations).
During the harvest the figs are picked by hand and it was pleasing to hear that virtually no chemicals are used on the farm, and the fruit is not sprayed. Visitors staying in the guest houses are able to pick and devour the ripe fruits directly from the trees growing outside the cottages or from the orchards without any risk to their health.
Their dried fig products are created using the intense ‘solar power’ of the Karoo sun. The drying process occurs outside in the baking heat where the figs are turned dailly, taking between three days (at the peak of summer) and seven days (in the cooler autumn weather) to to dry.
More about figs
- Figs are native to the Middle East where they have been cultivated for many centuries. They like to grow in dry, sunny areas which makes the Karoo the ideal place to grow them in South Africa.
- Figs are a great source of calcium and fibre. Figs are also a good source of copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K.
- Watch out though, they can have a laxative effect, which is a good or bad thing depending on your situation.
- According to legend, Buddha achieved enlightenment under an old, sacred fig tree (the bodhi tree).
- Figs might also add some spice to your life; they have been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac - once such remedy suggests soaking some figs overnight in milk and consuming them the next morning.
A short video of the farm (20sec)
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