"We didn't get any crops this year because of flooding," Johnny told him.
"Sorry to hear that."
Wishnatzki walked over to a flatbed truck and picked up a few containers of fresh-picked berries for his guests. Johnny gave him a bottle of his own organic honey in return.
After several thank yous, the Carsons drove away and Wishnatzki, a third-generation grower, was back watching 75 workers pick strawberries on part of his 1,500-acre farm off of
This season, Wishnatzki planted 470 acres of conventional strawber
ries and 180 acres of organic strawberries, which represent about 75 percent of
Wishnatzki started growing organic berries in the early 2000s in a greenhouse environment but lost money rapidly. He began to turn a profit only in the last few years.
"It's still a challenge. It's difficult. The climate here isn't conducive to growing organically," Wishnatzki said.
"If you were in a drier climate, you wouldn't have some of these challenges," said Wishnatzki, who also owns a
"Growers don't like using money, and they know they can't make it work," he said. "But it's definitely a worthy cause."Most organic strawberry growers are in
So why does Wishnatzki bother?
"Organic prices are higher, so there's an offset, and customers are willing to pay," he said, adding consumers can expect to pay upward of
Latin music streamed from truck radios and Pandora stations as 700 workers -- migrant and local -- picked berries Friday morning. In the last few years,
A picker, wearing a card with a 16-digit barcode, brings his haul to the checker, who will scan the card and a sticker that will go on the package. This allows the package to be traced back to the grower, the variety, field location and time of picking
The strawberries picked Friday will go to grocery stores like
"The vast majority of feedback has been positive. We do try to share that with employees," Wishnatzki said.
Customers can comment about Wish strawberries at HowsMyPicking.com.
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