PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – The livelihoods of local farmers were on the line throughout the frigid Christmas weekend in Tampa Bay.

“It was a long cold weekend, got to enjoy Christmas like normal,” said Matt Parke from Parkesdale Farm.

Parke’s family has harvested strawberries in Plant City for seven decades.

“Times have changed,” Parke said. “When we first got here there was no plastic on the field. They used to just grow on bare ground and irrigating wasn’t a thing. We had pine needle that we used to cover the berry with to keep them from freezing.”

Over the years, the farm has expanded and the company now sell its precious fruit to major retailers like Walmart and Kroeger.

After a day off for Christmas, the farm workers were back in the fields Monday to pick the ripe berries that survived the cold.

“I see a little bit of burn out there,” Parke said, “but it’s somewhere where the water wouldn’t reach but nothing significant. It’s very minor.”

Parke said his family business managed to protect and preserve most of its prized crop by activating the irrigation system overnight Friday and Saturday when the temperature dropped as low as 28 degrees.

“What it does is it kind of forms a layer of ice over the top of the berry,” Parke explained. “Think of it like an igloo, how an igloo somebody would stay inside of an igloo to stay warmer. Same thing is happening in our field. We’re making a layer of ice to keep that berry warmer so it doesn’t freeze and have damage on the fruit.”

Parke said they were prepared to turn on the sprinklers for a third night in a row, but fortunately the temperature Sunday night stayed above 32 degrees.

Just like the strawberries, Parke said he looks forward to more typical winter weather in Florida.

“I’m a Florida boy,” he said. “My blood’s ready for warm weather.”