Take one of the Sunshine State’s staple crops, infuse some competitive spirit, provide a place to gather for a good cause, and what do you get? You have all the makings of what was another successful Strawberry Picking Challenge.
The fourth annual event, sponsored by the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and hosted by Wish Farms in Plant City, raised more than $100,000, all to benefit children of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a nonprofit organization that operates childcare centers and charter schools for Florida’s rural poor, particularly farmworkers’ children.
The gathering featured 20 corporate-sponsored teams competing in a relay-style strawberry picking race. 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.
In addition to the amateur picking challenge, 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.
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.