Redberry Farm opened in 2000, and fifteen years down the line run a successful agritourism business alongside their commercial fruit production. In this article Sharon House provides a few tips for Tour Operators to arrange successful agri-tour groups.
When is a good time to visit a farm?
At Redberry Farm, agri-tours are offered all year round because they produce winter strawberries too. However, for the best berries, tours are recommended from the end of August until December as this is their traditional strawberry season.
How to make a booking?
Tour operators can conveniently view the different packages that Redberry Farm offers on their website. It is best to book via telephone to secure preferred dates and times as they only take one group in the morning and one group in the afternoon per day. Their tours are for a minimum of 10 people, but they can accommodate bigger groups in excess of 100 people.
Once a package has been selected and the date and time confirmed, Redberry ask for pre-payment. This is to make arrival on the day seamless and avoids awkward paying arrangements before the tour can begin.
What happens on arrival? Busses are parked on the field area so that the bus has enough space to manoeuvre. The bus driver is welcome to stretch his legs and relax in the tea garden while the group proceed with their tour.
Upon arrival, the tour leader should check in at the Farm Stall. A host will welcome you and take you to the area where the briefing part of the tour is conducted. Once everyone is settled in, a welcome strawberry juice is served. The presenter – either the farm manager or owner – will begin his interactive talk and discussion.
Thereafter the presenter will distribute the strawberry picking containers and escort the group to the miniature train where they will be transported in groups of 15 people to the strawberry fields. The group then roam the fields to fill their containers with fresh strawberries. Picking fields do vary though, depending on where the best ripe fruit is available, so the train ride may take place either before or after the picking. On average, the whole tour process takes one hour. If the tour package selected includes the hedge maze adventure and a meal, this will occur in the order that has been arranged upon booking (depending on the time of day). The hedge maze takes one to two hours to complete and about half an hour should be allowed for meals.
What agri-tours does the farm offer?
The standard one hour agri-tour at Redberry Farm, called a “Talk & Tour” is very affordable – starting at R72 for adults and R53 for children (2015 rack rate). It consists of a welcome strawberry juice on arrival, an interesting talk and discussion, strawberry picking in the fields and a miniature train ride. The talk explains how strawberries are grown, different varieties available in the world and region, and interesting general facts.
The farm is equipped with catering and other activities so if you have time, your group can easily enjoy a half day. Their hedge maze is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and the objective is to find all seven strawberry stations. Anyone who manages to do this, will have “discovered the strawberry secrets”, as each station has an educational board with information about strawberry propagation, ancient legends and modern day health uses. For group catering, platters, scones or good quality hamburgers are available.
Where is the farm located?
Redberry Farm is located just off the R404 – the traditional route to Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves – and 4km from George airport, making them conveniently positioned for groups who want to hop back on to the N2, as Mossel Bay is just a half hour drive away. Redberry Farm, as a tourist attraction, is rated as number two on TripAdvisor under ‘Things to do in George‘ and has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence.
Hestie Crous-Beckett, Managing Director at Agricultural Tours Worldwide, has been sending tours to Redberry Farm for a number of years and recommends the experience: “I always enjoy doing business with Redberry Farm as they have provided me with excellent service and the tourists have always enjoyed their visit to the farm. I always try and include a visit to them.”
For more information visit www.redberryfarm.co.za