PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Matt Parke has been working nonstop to try to save the strawberries at his farm in Plant City, as temperatures dip below freezing.

“So, you have your sprinklers running, how does that protect the strawberries?” asked News Channel 8’s Nicole Rogers.

“Well, as you can see right here, we have a protective layer of ice over top of these berries and even the strawberries themselves,” Parke responded. “Really what we’re protecting right now is our strawberries and our flowers which are the most delicate.”

“Any damage on that would be a loss for us.”

Parke says his and his family’s livelihood is at stake.

“I mean everything is on the line,” he said. “If we have a mishap and the water turns off, we could end up losing the farm.”

The Parke family has been harvesting strawberries at Parkesdale farms since the mid-1950s. Matt’s uncle, Gary Parke, said, “You can lose it all.”

It’s nothing new for Gary, who picked as many strawberries as he could Friday before the freeze.
“Believe it or not, we do have a playbook for this,” he said. “This usually happens 3-5 times a year, so you’re usually prepared for it.

Part of that playbook? Lots of last-minute decisions that could be the difference between a successful season and a total loss. 

In the time Gary has been harvesting strawberries here in Plant City, he says he’s seen two total losses, so it is possible. Farmers will continue working diligently at Parkesdale Farms to make sure that doesn’t happen.