We are sitting beneath a vast oak tree and enjoy splendid elder flower juice. It is made by Nataša Kozlica, owner of the family farm Goranska Borovnica (Highlander Blueberry) and it just suits great in already warm end of spring. She is accompanied by three generations of her family, a dog, and a cat. Oh yes, also a wooden bear looks at us, as part of the education garden where school kids come to learn more about self-grown herbs and students have their practical work.
But the basis of this family farm is in traditional Gorski kotar favourite fruits and sweets, the forest berries. The gift of the mountains and woodlands, berries were unavoidable part of the locals’ diet for generations. Today, they are essential part of every highlander menu, and not only in its sweet part. Local game dishes, such as bear or venison, regularly come with blueberry sauce or cranberry jelly, giving a perfect blend of pure meat and sweetness of berries.
Throughout summer people go into the forest to pick berries and make grandma-style jams and juices. At Goranska Borovnica, they plant it. One can find here strawberries, raspberries, currants, American blueberries, elder, and blackberries. A mix of forest berries is a basis for Kozlica’s refreshing liqueur, which we readily enjoyed at the estate.
It seems idyllic but there is a great deal of effort and risks behind this work. Everything is done beneath open sky, and fruits can ripe at different times, thus adding to the unpredictability of the whole process. But the end result is pure taste in various products that can be found in the farm’s souvenir shop.
Here guests can find authentic highland souvenirs, like wooden and ceramic products, homemade teas, soaps, candles, postcards. Especially appealing is the Fužine basket, rich with the fruits from the farm. And if you feel tired, why not spending a night or two here? Apartment Polić is just next to the farm, and is run by the oldest members of the family. Their piercing blue eyes keep the wisdom of the rural life in the mountains, while the agricultural knowledge of Mrs Kozlica makes this farm one of the best in the whole Gorski kotar region.
The family also prepared us cake with their fruits and guided us through the farm, where also a forest log cabin is situated for any guests seeking peace and quiet of woods. Information tables can be seen all around, giving interesting information about plants, animals, waters, and forest; indeed, a tour many of us should take in order to bring back memories of childhood visits to the woodlands.