Fruit-picking in Babylonstoren, South Africa
Fruit-picking is avery popular activity in the farms near Cape Town. The Western Cape Provincehas a typical Mediterranean climate which makes it feasible for farmingactivities. There are many farms where you can enter with your basket for asmall fee and pick as many fruits as you want.
Babylonstoren is oneof the oldest farms in the region, founded in the late 17th century. NomadicKhoisan people inhabited it before that. Simon van der Stel, the governor ofthe Cape Colony, granted the area to a burgher called Pieter van der Byl whoplanted the first vineyards and fruits as well as arranging sufficient watersupply.
Babylonstoren is about60 km to the northeast of Cape Town, near the town of Paarl. The entrance is 20ZAR, but there are free guided tours once you get in.
What makesBabylonstoren special is the farming technique invented to enhance thefertility of the grounds. The soil was initially not as fertile as desired, so therewere some additions such as chicken excrement. There were also shards ofChinese ceramics found in the soil. These were thought to be buried by theworkers who would have hidden the ones they broke by mistake. Coincidentally, theyturned out to be beneficial for the soil as well.
The fruits you canpick will depend on the season. If you go in September and October, the farmwill be full of lemons and guavas most of which are ripe. In late summer(February), you will see a lot of ripe figs.
Another specialfeature of the farm was that they were not using insecticides on the fruits.Instead, to attract the flies and other insects elsewhere, they built what iscalled “the bug hotel.” This wooden structure consisted of fire-woodsof different shapes and with different sizes of pores for the flies to nest.Using the bug hotel, the killing of the bugs was avoided since some of theseinsects were actually necessary to maintain the ecological balance.
The farm is also fullof historic and even prehistoric trees. The most abundant one is a cycadspecies. Cycad is a type of tree from the age of dinosaurs and still survivedto this day. Of 300 total cycad species, 37 are found in South Africa.
There is a restaurantand wine tasting opportunity, and obviously, everything has been organicallyproduced first-hand from the eggs to honey and wine.
A bonus attraction foryou to visit after the picnic: Afrikaans Language Monument that absolutelylooks like an Icelandic (or Scandinavian for that matter) church. This monumentwas officially opened in 1975 to commemorate the declaration of Afrikaans as aseparate official language from Dutch. The monument consists of tapering obeliskstructures with different heights and widths. They represent the contributionof other languages to Afrikaans and the relationship between each language.