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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Up in the Swiss hills

It has been a busy couple of days. I've been buzzing around Switzerland visiting herb farms and gardens up in the hills surrounding Basel.

It might seem like an odd way to spend a couple of days, but it's not; I'm here for work, to see the people behind Swiss herbal sweet brand Ricola.

It is a family-owned business which was founded in the region at the start of last century by a baker who believed herbs were good for you, but needed to be given a better flavour. Every sweet in the Ricola line contains the 13 herb blend which is found in the original version.

While we've been out here we have visited the Ricola Herb Garden, the production factory and one of their herb farms. But what I have really taken away from this is that i am definitely coming back.

It is just stunning up here.

The herb garden is located about half an hour outside Basel and is open to the public. We had lunch under a tree at the top of the garden and then took a walk around to learn about the ingredients involved in the production of Ricola.

The garden is maintained by a family who keep it looking this spectacular all year round. And you can just turn up for a visit. There are even wild bees living there.

After learning about the ingredients we headed into the factory to see the sweets produced. It is 38 degrees in there and we got some very attractive outfits to go with it.

Last night's jaunt for dinner took us to a spot which the horologically minded among you will have heard of: Baselworld.

But our urban surroundings were short-lived and today it was back into the hills for a trip to the Melchnau Herb Farm.

Here a family grow and harvest herbs for Ricola and a range of other uses, including their own syrups and shops and restaurants in the nearby town.

They also have cows.

And look how pretty it is. The whole operation is run out of this farm house, which looks like it was lifted out of a children's book. The father of the family living here was born on the farm and his parents live there too in another house.

After the work was done, they treated us to the most amazing lunch of produce grown on the farm - and then a trip to the vegetable garden for young strawberries and raspberries.

Switzerland, you are a beauty. I'll be back with S.


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