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Strawberry-picking event raises $75,000 for Redlands Christian Migrant Association

PLANT CITY – A strawberry-picking competition featuring teams sponsored by local corporations and organizations raised about $75,000 to help a charity for the rural poor.

The inaugural Bright House Networks Strawberry Picking Challenge was successful despite cool and rainy weather, said Amber Kosinsky, spokeswoman for the fundraiser’s host, Wish Farms.

About 300 people attended the Feb. 8 fundraiser to benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association, including picking teams sponsored by International Paper, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and others.

The teams competed for top honors based on such factors as speed of picking and the quality of the berries harvested. Each team was assigned a coach who works for an area grower.

The winning team, sponsored by Ed and Barbara Bergmann, was coached by Donnie Randall of Plant City’s Fancy Farms. The celebrity pickers included state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who headed the Fresh from Florida team.

Bay News 9 anchor Veronica Cintron emceed the fundraiser.

Plans are in the works for another challenge next year, Kosinsky said.

“We’re looking for it to get even bigger and better,” she said.

Wish Farms is a longtime supporter of Redlands Christian Migrant Association, which offers child care centers and other services for the rural poor, particularly to the children of farmworkers.

The event helped participants see the difficult task performed by strawberry pickers, Kosinsky said.

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Strawberry-picking event raises $75,000 for Redlands Christian Migrant Association