%imgColorful Harvest expands Florida berry operationsContinuing its eastward expansion, Colorful Harvest LLC is acquiring a cooling facility and adding to its berries and vegetables acreage.

The Salinas, Calif.-based grower-shipper acquired a cooler formerly owned by Plant City, Fla.-based Wish Farms, added four large central Florida strawberry farms and is expanding into blueberries.

Doug Ranno, Colorful Harvest’s chief operating officer and managing partner, said the expanded Florida operations bring new energy to the company’s East Coast berry offerings.

“Florida continues to be an integral part of our year-round berry program,” Ranno said. “I’ve always believed in Florida. We have been operating almost 10 years in Florida and believe Florida provides a great and successful opportunity for strawberries, blueberries and vegetables.”

Adjacent to strawberry fields, the dedicated Trapnell Farms cooling operation is called Colorful Harvest Cooling Florida.

The facility, which includes an in-market sales office, and additional acreage should allow Colorful Harvest to achieve a shorter cut-to-cool time, Ranno said.

Colorful Harvest plans to expand into Florida blueberries when the season begins in March.

Ranno said the company plans to get its Plant City packing line food safety certified before packing the fruit under its Colorful Harvest logo.

The Florida blueberries are part of Colorful Harvest’s reinvigorated Southeastern blueberry strategy, which includes increased production from Georgia and North Carolina and South Carolina, he said.

The cooling facility was formerly owned by Florida Strawberry Growers Association co-founder Tommy Brock of Plant City-based Brock Farms Inc., who in 2006 sold his operation to Wish Farms.

Colorful Harvest is also expanding production and marketing of its variety-colored vegetables, including sweet red corn, orange, purple and green cauliflower and multicolored carrots, which are grown in central and south Florida.

The company, which grows on its own acreage as well as markets for others, also offers green beans, squash, bell peppers and eggplant.