I recently visited Cecilia’s Farm during harvest in the picturesque Ceres Valley.
Meet Handri Conradie. managing director and founder of At Source Handmade Food and the Cecilia’s Farm premium dried fruit and nut brand. He is also a 6th generation fruit farmer on his family farm, Koelfontein that has been in business since 1832. Handri exudes passion for his produce and strives for perfection. So after meeting him, I can understand why Cecilia’s Farm products are simply on another level. And did you know that the brand was named after his daughter, Cecilia? All together now, “Aaaawww!”
It was an awesome experience to walk through the peach and nectarine orchards during harvest. Beautiful fruit as far as the eye could see, you could smell the sweetness in the air.
Handri took me around the farm and we picked some fruit for our lunch (read about the harvest lunch I prepared at the farmhouse and get the recipes here).
How big is this yellow cling peach? This one in particular is a Neethling variety.
We also picked free-stone red skin peaches (Suncrest variety) – they were my favourite. And I was lucky enough to pick some of their signature Colorburst nectarines, popular for it’s free-stone, drying characteristics and unique taste and texture that makes it ideal for At Source’s signature soft-eating dried fruit range. They have a yellow skin and are wickedly juicy.
This pic right here makes me want to break out in song, “Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches…” . Two freshly picked yellow cling peaches keeping us cool and hydrated as we drive around the farm.
Freshly picked nectarines being cut open and pips removed to dry out in the blistering hot Ceres sun.
Peaches for days drying out happily in the sun. Isn’t this a beautiful sight?
Handri gives us a peek of some perfectly sun dried nectarines.
The dried fruit is then taken to the factory where it goes through various steps to ensure premium quality using technology and machinery to sort out size, colour and any other specifications. I have to say from a food science background, this factory ticked all the boxes for me. Ultra hygienic with state of the art machinery and processes.
So much work goes into making sure each piece of dried fruit is perfect.
This is Anton, chief operations manager and seriously clued up food scientist. Here he was explaining how fruit roll and bar mixtures are mixed in these bad boys.
The portioning and wrapping of fruit bars.
Do visit the farm shop at Koelfontein, where you’ll be tempted to buy Cecilia’s Farm products, wine and fresh seasonal fruit.
While you are in the area, visit the historical, ”restored wine cellar, known as Die Kelder, now houses wine tasting for visitors to Koelfontein and serves as a glimpse into the farm’s history. Die Kelder was the first permanent dwelling on Koelfontein and was home to the first two generations of Conradies. Once the family moved to a newer, larger house in the late 1800’s this building was converted into a wine cellar and blacksmith’s forge. Today the family tradition of brandy distilling is still honoured on Koelfontein every year when witblits is distilled from Hanepoot wine made here.”
The shiraz is a must try. Just saying…
Farm shop opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 8am to 5pm
Saturday: 9am to 1pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
+27 (023) 313 3130
Cecilia’s Farm Shop on Koelfontein
Prince Alfred’s Hamlet, 6840
At Source Handmade Foods sell their Koelfontein range of soft-eating dried fruit products exclusively through Woolworths and their Cecilia’s Farm dried fruit and nuts are stocked at Spar outlets, top end deli’s and foodie stores. Did you know you can buy their products online and get it delivered to your door?
Click here to read about the harvest grazing board I prepared at the farmhouse during my visit.
I’m currently partnering with Cecilia’s Farm to develop a few recipes for them. I will be sharing them on the site soon!
I have been remunerated but all views are my own.
Tamsyn2nd Feb 2016 11:15 am
Such and awesome read!