Entrepreneur: Snježana Ljubić
Company name: OPG Ljubić
Area: Strawberry cultivation,
Location: Hrvatsko zagorje, Zabok, Croatia
I own a small family agricultural business but I grow strawberries together with my family. We all love nature and agriculture.
My full time job is selling. I worked in some other company until I got fired in 2012. Since we needed money for my son’s education, and only husband worked at that time, I went to Kutina, a small town in the south of the country to my friends who needed help with their own business; collecting strawberries. I had plenty of time, and I really enjoyed collecting them.
I love the way they smelled and tasted, and the work wasn’t too hard.
They gave me a lot of information about strawberries, and how to grow them and I was fascinated! It didn’t seem easy at all, but my family has cultivated the land for a long time, so I was sure we would make it together. They laughed at me in the beginning, since I grew up in the city and now I had decided to work on the land.
We started planting strawberries in 2012 on the land near our family house. My husband took care of the preparation of the land and I got everything else we needed. We didn’t have proper tools, so we took shovels and a tablet and tried to see how others did it. It was great to use technology and (in) nature at the same time.
We prepared the land and we finally got the seedlings. And then: Shock! Seedling were delivered to us as small icebergs! We weren’t prepared for that! We started dicing them and separate the seedling which reminded us on little squids and then plant them. When they were finally planted, everything looked very miserable; black nylon with brown heads of strawberries. But after two days the plantation was beautiful; green. We were so happy! Every day it became more beautiful. Our first harvest gave us more strawberries than we expected. We even had some profit. In the next few years, our strawberries didn’t give us as much as we expected because of climate changes (frost, hard rain). But we didn’t give up!
In the next few years we made new plantations and we bought greenhouse. This year, frost also came, but it didn’t harm our strawberries:).
Our strawberries regenerate us. During May our backyard is full of children, young people, old people, cars and bicycles. Everybody knows that our strawberries are pesticide and germicide free, and there is always one cup of strawberries waiting for them. People often come to the greenhouse and help us collect strawberries they want to buy! Children love it because they can eat strawberries directly from the plant.
Now, the harvest is over and we are all resting. Since the temperatures were really high this year, fruits were ripen really fast and we had to collect them non stop! As we were collecting, people were buying and taking them away, and in the evening, shelves were empty again, like we didn’t do nothing whole day!
At the moment we have plantation with 3000 seedlings. But demand is higher, so we are preparing fields for one more plantation where we could plant 5000 seedlings. We would like to make some products from strawberries; jam, marmelade, there is a demand for that also, but we sell all strawberries during the season, so there’s no left to process!
I love the peace that the strawberry land gives me; birds singing, bees flying, and this year a lot of crickets. So we joke that we have all in one: sauna, gym, healthy food and good music! It is not too hard to grow strawberries since you do it in segments: in March we cut down dry leaves and prepare greenhouse, in May we harvest, after that we take off the greenhouse. Every work has its pros and cons. After the harvest we all get back pain, but the smell and the taste of the strawberries heel everything, and the profit is very good:)
If you have even a small piece of land, grow something that you love and take care of it because nature gives back a lot more that we gave to her!