Strawberry picking contest benefits children's charity

02/12/2014 02:18:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

click image to zoomFlorida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Team Farm Credit of Central Florida Courtesy Wish FarmsFlorida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (orange) poses with members of Team Farm Credit of Central Florida. The recent inaugural strawberry picking challenge hosted by Wish Farms not only raised $75,000 for charity but it also showcased the hard work crews put into harvesting.

The Bright House Networks Strawberry Picking Challenge, held Feb. 8, featured 20 corporate-sponsored teams that competed in relays to pick strawberries at Wish Farms in Plant City, Fla.

Proceeds benefit the Immokalee-based Redlands Christian Migrant Association, a non-profit organization that operates 70 childcare centers and three charter schools for Florida's rural poor, particularly farm worker's children.

Wish Farms is a long-time supporter of the association, and for the past eight years has held a tennis tournament to benefit it as well as other non-profits.

“This fun, family event was a great success,” Gary Wishnatzki, Wish Farms' owner, said in a news release. “We hope we succeeded in bringing awareness not only to the hard work of our farm workers but also to the outstanding contribution that RCMA makes.”

Among the noted harvesters in the contest were Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who led the Fresh from Florida team.

Florida strawberry growers acted as picking instructors and coaches.

The winners were the Ed and Barbara Bergmann Team, coached by Donnie Randell of Fancy Farms. They were recognized for their picking prowess and received individual strawberry trophies. They also received the "Strawberry Joe" perpetual trophy.

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