Feb 22, 2018
Wish Farms introduces Misty Organics blueberry farm
Stephen Kloosterman

Wish Farms, the year-round grower-marketer of berries, has opened a new organic blueberry farm located in Alturas, Florida.

Named for Wish Farms’ mascot, Misty the Garden Pixie, the project began as an idea in 2014. The farm is a joint-venture of three ag veterans at Wish Farms: Gary Wishnatzki, J.C. Clinard and Teddy Koukoulis.

With the demand for organic blueberries getting stronger, supply falls short of consumer and retail demand during certain times of the year. As South American blueberry production starts falling off in late February, supply can be tight until the Southeastern U.S. ramps up in late April. Misty Organics hopes to fill the gap during that historically challenging window of time.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Teddy Koukoulis, director of Wish Farms’ Bblueberry operations. “When you see a need, you’ve got to recognize the opportunity to fill that void.”

An overhead drone shot of the 20-acre farm under tunnels. Located in Alturas, Florida. Photo: Wish Farms

The 20-acre farm sits on a south facing slope that overlooks a lakefront. This geographical arrangement, coupled with high tunnels, creates a greenhouse effect. The high tunnels not only provide freeze protection for the crop, they also provide higher growing temperatures during cooler periods. The cover also protects the crop from rain, hail and general moisture. “It took us a year just to find the perfect plot of land,” said Wish Farms’ Chief Operating Officer J.C. Clinard. “We’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and observe some of the best farming practices, and we used that information to make the best possible decisions to build this project.”

Misty Organics’ entire crop is grown in containers, which allows for spatial flexibility. As a result, there are more than twice the number of plants per acre than a typical blueberry farm. Additionally, the farm showcases high-tech soil moisture sensors and drip irrigation that drastically reduces water usage. With more than seven blueberry varieties featured, the team will observe which varieties perform with the best output and quality.

“We’re excited to continue innovating as a company,” added Wish Farms CEO Gary Wishnatzki. “Misty Organics is an important piece of the puzzle. By extending the Florida growing season, we can continue providing consumers with high-quality, domestic blueberries.”

Wish Farms, founded in 1922 and third-generation owned, is a year-round supplier of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries growing both conventional and organic varieties.

Above: Teddy Koukoulis, Wish Farms Director of Blueberry Operations and J.C. Clinard, Wish Farms, Chief Operating Officer Photo: Wish Farms

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