Florida Strawberry Pickers Rise to the Challenge for Charity

A hearty congratulations to the AG Labor team, coached by Julio Cruz, on being awarded the “Best Harvest Crew” during the 2018 Strawberry Picking Challenge in Plant City, FL.
Photo courtesy of Wish Farms

The annual Strawberry Picking Challenge in Plant City, FL, does more than just celebrate the act of who can bring in the biggest bounty of berries. The special fundraising event presented by Monte Package Company and hosted by Wish Farms also does its part to strongly support a worthwhile cause related to the industry.

This year’s gathering (the fifth annual) raised nearly $100,000 for the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a non-profit that operates child-care centers and charter schools for Florida’s rural poor, particularly farmworkers’ children.

The fundraiser featured 21 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 cheered on competitors and coached the corporate teams through the picking challenge.

Ultimately, the AG Labor team, coached by Julio Cruz, was crowned 2018’s “Best Harvest Crew.”

In addition to the sponsor picking challenge, local strawberry growers nominated their best harvesters to battle it out in a professional picking competition. A total of $800 was awarded to the winner and runners-up.

The day-long event featured a charity U-pick open to the public and other family-friendly fun like a strawberry shortcake eating contest, balloon artists, games, music, and more.

“The Picking Challenge continues to grow year after year,” stated Gary Wishnatzki, Owner of Wish Farms. “I love that our industry shares a close bond with the community. Bringing folks together to recognize our dedicated farmers and field workers, as well as RCMA’s unwavering commitment is what this day is all about.”

Since the event began in 2014, the Strawberry Picking Challenge has donated a total of $423,000 to the children of RCMA.