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PLANT CITY, FL -- Wishnatzki Farms, a Florida-based grower-shipper, has hired Darwin Reich as director of California operations. He will oversee Misty Ranch, the company's joint venture with Berry Valley Farms in Salinas, CA. He will also recruit independent growers in California who want to sell their crops through Wishnatzki's marketing arm. And he will look for opportunities for the company to own and operate acreage in California.

"Establishing operations in California and hiring Darwin to lead them shows our serious commitment to providing high-quality produce year-round," Gary Wishnatzki, president of Wishnatzki Farms, said in a March 28 press release. "Initially, the Berry Valley deal will give us about 120 acres of produce to sell, but Darwin's operational expertise and understanding of the California growing industry should help us expand our California production well beyond that. We'd like to increase by 50 percent a year for the next few years."

Mr. Reich said in the release, "I'm looking forward to helping Wish Farms achieve its goals in California. It's no surprise that Florida's most successful grower-shipper would come to California in order to extend production beyond Florida's growing season. With California's large growers offering year-round berries, it is a competitive necessity."

Mr. Reich was previously operations manager for NorCal Harvesting in Salinas. He can now be reached at darwin@wishfarms.com.