TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Strawberry season has arrived but before breaking out the recipes, take a moment to recognize the farm workers who are spending their days picking the fruit.

With less than a month away from the Florida Strawberry Festival, 8 On Your Side’s Brianda Villegas took a trip to Parkesdale Farms in Dover where workers have been out in the fields filling up flats with the berries.

“That’s hard work, that’s real hard work,” Parkesdale Farms farm worker Chevo Martinez said. “Especially when someone comes for the first time, it’s killing their back.

Martinez said he has worked at the Dover strawberry farm fields for almost 40 years and hopes the community recognizes the work it takes to put food on the table.

“I’ve been on the farm my whole life,” farmer Matt Parke said. “Farmworkers, when I grew up, those were my friends. Still today, I keep in touch with the ones that have moved on from the farm.”

Without the work the harvesters have done throughout the years, Parkesdale Farms would not have been as successful as they are currently.

“What’s the use of me growing something if I don’t have somebody to harvest it?” Parke explained.

Matt Parkes’s grandfather, Roy Parkes, played a key role in growing the Florida Strawberry Festival after starting Parkesdale Farms on 10 acres in the 1950s.

You can find about 10,000 acres of strawberry farms in Tampa Bay. Below is a list of several local places you can visit and support by buying strawberries:

Parkesdale Market

  • 3702 W. Baker Street in Plant City

Keel Farms

  • 5210 Thonotosassa Road in Plant City

Strawberry Passion/ Passion Organics Farms

  • 11780 Tom Folsom Road in Thonotosassa

Starkey Blueberry Farm (also has strawberries)

  • 10730 Lake Blanche Drive in Trinity