Located about 20 minutes away from the urban buzz of Sandton, Pico-Gro is a microgreen farming enterprise run by Erika Oberholzer.
Established in 1995, Pico-Gro first specialised in cut flowers and essential oils, but after several years of successful farming and an award for Female Farmer of the year in Gauteng, Erika became curious to explore new ideas. She spent countless hours researching farming trends, horticulture and culinary herbs before she began experimenting with an interesting concept known as microgreens.
Since then, she has gone from strength to strength. The production never stops and the process is extremely labour intensive. The workers are busy seven days a week, sowing the seeds, washing and refilling the trays, cutting the micro herbs and moving them over to be packaged. The herbs are carefully cut and inspected by hand to ensure only the finest quality product is sent to the packing area. “I buy 30 pairs of paper scissors a month to use when cutting the herbs and they have to be sharpened daily,” says Erika. The harvesting window is a maximum of 3 days, so scheduling is critical.
The complexity of the entire process lies in keeping the herbs free from any fungal diseases, due to the minimum air circulation in the densely packed seedlings, the correct amount of irrigation and irrigation times, as well as maintaining a pure, clean environment for the herbs to grow.
With these skillsets in place, Erika has now expanded her offering to provide an edible flower range, complete with both Buds and Blossoms, as well as Elfin Veggies and Healthy Herbs.