Blueberry Festival Raises Nearly $25,000 for Non-Profits

Abigail Taylor Berries, Top Posts

Gayane Stepanian

Contact: Bill Coats, RCMA Director of Communications, (813) 376-8149; bill@rcma.org.

UMATILLA – The seventh annual Blueberry Gleaning Festival at Spring Valley Farms raised nearly $25,000 for Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) and Ocala’s FreeD.O.M. Clinic. The festival on May 21 drew more than 500 guests to the rolling hills of Umatilla to pick their own blueberries and enjoy a barbecue picnic.

“It was a great day that allowed us to give back to RCMA and the clinic for the vital services they provide to our farmworkers,” said Chuck Allison, who co-owns Spring Valley Farms with his wife, Vesna.

RCMA, a nonprofit based in Immokalee, operates three child-care centers in the Ocala area (and 64 others statewide) that cater to farmworker families. FreeD.O.M. Clinic provides medical and dental care to farmworkers.

Allison said Spring Valley Farms relies on good relationships – not government contracts or private middlemen – to recruit its farmworkers.

“We are passionate about providing a great work environment for these workers,” Allison said. “This is why the services that RCMA and FreeD.O.M. Clinic provide are so important.”

Allison thanked 4 Rivers Smokehouse for donating brisket and pork for the picnic, and the DUDA agribusiness for donating sweet corn.

Gayane Stepanian, RCMA’s new executive director, attended the festival for the first time.

“What a beautiful farm and beautiful people!” she said. “There is so much mutual respect between the Allisons and their farmworkers.”

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