Founding Story

Broetje Orchards established in 1968

 

Ralph and Cheryl Broetje established Broetje Orchards in 1968, when they first settled onto a small cherry orchard in Benton City, Washington.  As a teenager, Ralph had dreamed of one day owning an orchard and using profits to help children in India.  While the work of starting a business was slow in the beginning, and they endured many challenges and tests along the way, people came around them in those early years to help make the dream a reality.

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In 1982

The Broetje family moved to Prescott, Washington, a move forced by intersecting changes across the country.  It was a time of economic recession and the related “farm crisis,” which resulted in many farms like ours losing operating loans and the ability to stay in business.  It was also a time of shifting labor, as domestic workers slowed their migration and were subsequently replaced by young, men from Mexico desperate for work to feed their families.

 

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The year of starting over

For the Broetjes, 1983 was a year of remembering God’s call on the business to serve children in need. Over Christmas break, Ralph and Cheryl took their own children to the US-Mexico border, where they volunteered with a nonprofit serving impoverished and displaced communities in garbage slums and brick-making colonias. This experience provided much-needed insights into the realities of economic refugees and the role that business could play to be a positive force of change.

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Becoming an economic engine for social change

By 1987, the business had recovered and a decision was made to build a packing line and shipping warehouse, making Broetje Orchards a vertically integrated company. This also made 100 new jobs immediately available — of which many were filled by women.  These women shared new stories about their families and the difficult living conditions in which they lived.

 

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Serving families

As first generation immigrants from Mexico, they were strangers in a new land and eager to find work. They had come with little more than the hope for a better life, for themselves and for their children. Upon arrival, they faced huge challenges — housing located in overcrowded and violent neighborhoods; lack of extended family to provide safe childcare; and high school-drop-out rates hindering the potential of youth.

 

It became clear that Broetje Orchards was being called to serve these families. As managers worked to nurture caring relationships, the company became an economic engine for social change – investing in such initiatives as children’s education, safe housing, leadership development, and community and workplace engagement.  Over the next 30 years, we learned what kinds of partnerships it takes to nurture flourishing communities, and how to encourage engagement and sustainability.

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Selling the farm

In 2018, the Broetje family made the decision to sell the farm and community to a new company.  With this transition, new opportunities emerged:  managers who stayed with the farm assumed leadership for sustaining this unique way of doing business in community; and the Broetje family took the lessons learned as guiding principles for how to more heavily invest in multiplying this work around the world.

 

The pages of this website tell the story of the outgrowth of this ministry on one farm, and how that lived community has became the spark for a global movement.

A Timeline of Progress

The Dream

1960

Ralph's dream is born...
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A Rough Beginning

1968

Ralph and Cheryl Broetje bought their first cherry orchard in Benton City, Washington. The first three years were disastrous, but a dream team formed.
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Early Success

1970s

With each successful harvest, debts were paid off and orchards were expanded in Benton City and Yakima, Washington.
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The Move

1982

Rough times return. Ralph and Cheryl Broetje were forced to sell the Benton City and Yakima properties and moved to Prescott, Washington.
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Remembering The Dream

1983

In the midst of crisis, faith and business came together to rekindle the original vision.
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The Center For Sharing

1986

Through the experiences in Mexico and working with the Marginalized here locally, Cheryl felt a call...
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First Packing Line

1987

Broetje Orchards becomes a vertically integrated company as grower, packer and shipper all on one site.
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Investing In Families

1988

The company opened New Horizon Preschool to provide safe, affordable childcare on site.
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Building Community

1990

The company builds the Vista Hermosa community, a place for families to find safety and belonging near the workplace.
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Vista Hermosa Foundation

1990

A private foundation was established to carry out the mission of “Bearing Fruit that will Last, “both at home and around the world.
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Jubilee Foundation

1995

Out of the first servant leadership course at CFS, Jubilee Foundation was birthed as a third nonprofit to support struggling families.
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Building on Success

1995

Over the next decade, Broetje Orchards invested heavily into expanding orchards and infrastructure.
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Creation of the Tierra Vida Community

2005

Jubilee Foundation furthers Community Development in the region by investing in land development in East Pasco.
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Hail Storm

2006

On May 19, 2006, a hail storm destroyed both apples and cherries at Broetje Orchards.
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Seeking Immigration Reform

2011

Standing with the “strangers among us,” Broetje Orchards devoted time and resources to partner and advocate for just immigration reform in the United States.
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Advancing Holistic Wellbeing in the Workplace

2013

Incorporating teachings on trauma informed care to address the need for healing and reconciliation, new trainings and services were offered
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Selling Broetje Orchards

2018

After 50 years, the company sells…
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