In the past, the producer of natural juices from South Sady, Gejza Varga, managed to sell his entire harvest from the old Ford. Because of cheap imports from abroad, he almost went out of business. Only a new business partner, Sanagro, helped him.

It was still during communism when Gejza Varga decided to connect his life with fruit growing. Today, thirty years later, he freely admits that it was not his best decision. The reason? The degradation of Slovak agriculture that followed the accession to the European Union. Despite this claim, however, Gejza Varga does not deny the true farmer in him. He adores his farm, which he named Dallas, and his orchards. He has devoted his whole life to them and is rightly proud of them. Don't be surprised - it is here that the fruit is grown, which is then used to produce apple juice under the South Orchards brand. And they have three top qualities: they are made in-house, without chemistry and without added sugar and water. 

However, the devastation of the agricultural sector meant one significant change in business for Gejza Varga - he had to find a strong business partner to help him with sales. This was the Sanagro Group, which invests in agriculture in Slovakia. Thanks to this, he can continue to run his business and produce the Južné Sady juices.

He was "recruited" to farming at school

Gejza Varga comes from Bratislava and no one in his family led him to fruit growing. Even as a gymnasium student, however, he knew where his oasis of peace was, as he calls it. It was his grandfather's garden in the Podunajské Biskupice district of Bratislava, where he built his first greenhouse. 

He stayed in Bratislava for some time, working as the main expert advisor for citrus growers in the former Czechoslovakia. However, while studying at the University of Agriculture in Brno, he was "recruited" from the then state estates to the post of fruit grower and his now wife to the position of florist. Even before the Revolution, Gejza Varga came to the village of Kravany nad Dunajom in the south of Slovakia. And this is where you will find his Dallas, where he still lives today. "I came here for the position of chief fruit grower. I was in charge of 350 hectares of orchards. It was a wonderful job that we enjoyed," recalls the small farmer. And, he adds, shortly after the revolution, the orchard was one of the first state assets to be privatised. "My wife and I seized the opportunity and decided to lease 10 hectares of orchards," says Gejza Varga. 

It was a good decision in those days. He used to deliver all the fruit and vegetables in a small Ford to the warehouses and nearby greengrocers. There was a high demand for quality produce. By the way, Gejza Varga shared his position in Kravany nad Dunajom with seven other fruit growers in those days. Despite the competition, however, there was no shortage of business.

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Photo: Miroslava Kohútová

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