The fundraiser featured 20 corporate-sponsored teams competing in an exciting relay-style strawberry picking race. Some of the crews represented were International Paper, Publix, Farm Credit of Central Florida, Amalie Oil, and ATP. Strawberry growers from around the state motivated competitors and coached the corporate teams through the picking challenge. Ultimately, the Temp Labor team, coached by Hector Cruz Jr., was crowned 2017’s “Best Harvest Crew.” They are the newest recipients of the perpetual Strawberry Joe Trophy.
Local strawberry growers nominated their best harvesters to battle it out in a picking competition for the pros. Misael Bautista, employee of Fancy Farms, received the highest judge’s score for speed and quality, winning a cash prize of $300.
The day-long event featured a charity u-pick open for the public to pick their own strawberries. Other family-friendly activities included a strawberry shortcake eating contest, balloon artist, face painter, games, music, and even a special appearance by the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court and N.R.G. “Next Radical Generation” singing group.
All proceeds from the Strawberry Picking Challenge will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association, a nonprofit that operates child-care centers and charter schools for Florida’s rural poor, particularly farm workers’ children. Wish Farms is a long-time supporter of RCMA. Since the event began in 2014, the Strawberry Picking Challenge has donated a total of $250,000 to the children of RCMA.
“This has been our best year yet,” said Gary Wishnatzki, owner of Wish Farms. “The weather was gorgeous and the competition was exciting. We hope that we were able to recognize and bring awareness to our dedicated field workers and farmers, as well as the tremendous support that RCMA gives to the farm worker community.”