MANATEE -- Rain or shine, Wish Farms is opening its fields in Duette on Saturday to the public, charities and food banks for its annual charity strawberry u-pick.
The cost to the public is $5 per box, including the crate.
Food banks and charities with documentation may pick for free if they supply their own containers.
The beneficiary of funds raised through the public u-pick is Redlands Christian Migrant Association. The association provides child care and early education for the children of migrant farmworkers and rural, low-income families throughout Florida.
In Manatee County, the association operates a child care center for farmworker families in Palmetto. In nearby Ruskin and Wimauma, the association operates several charter schools and numerous other facilities
"It's a good fit for us. It shows appreciation for our farmworkers and the work that they do," Amber Kosinsky of Wish Farms said of the annual event, set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 37381 State Road 62.
The u-pick also offers families a unique outing and an opportunity to learn where strawberries come from, Kosinsky said.
"We get a lot of requests from people throughout the year to come into the fields, but it's hard to accommodate them when we are in the season. At the end of the season is a perfect time to let people come out," she said.
This season, Wish Farms CEO Gary Wishnatzki planted 470 acres of conventional strawberries and 180 acres of organic strawberries, about 75 percent of Florida's organic production, the Herald previously reported.
Bill Coats, communications and marketing director for Redlands Christian Migrant Association, said his organization gets much support in general from Florida agriculture but that the level of commitment at Wish Farms is unique.
Wishnatzki has raised money for scholarships to the University of South Florida for students from farmworker families and also raised more than $300,000 to help build a middle school in Wimauma, Coats said.
For information visit www.wishfarms.com/upick.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.