Cherry Crop Donations

Giving Our "First Fruits" of the Season
Every year, Broetje Orchards donates 100% of profits from the sale of our original 50-acre block of cherries to ministry. These cherries are recognized as our "first fruits" of the season. The donations not only serve the larger vision of our company but provide a process for engaging our employees directly in that vision.

At the beginning of each season, employees gather together to review proposals and choose recipients.  As the season progresses, we ask our partners to pray for a successful harvest. Once the cherries are sold, profits are distributed.

Below is a list of recipients for 2013.
Cherry Crop Donations

2013 Distributions
Ninos de la Calle
Street children ministry in Mexico City
Casa del Migrante
Migrant services in Huehuetoca
World Vision
Drought recovery
Frente Democratico Campesino Outreach to the Tarahumara, Chihuahua
One America
Immigration reform in WA State
Medical Teams International
Children's health services
Latino Educational Achievement Project Latino student scholarships in WA State
Centro de Compartimiento
Girls' education and leadership, Oaxaca
Pro Mujer
Woman's business training
Family Learning Center
Literacy classes for immigrants
USA $10,692
World Relief
Immigration reform
Family services, Walla Walla
USA $9,252
International Justice Mission
Prevention of sex trafficking
Mercy Corps
Land rights
Latin America
Jericho Road Ministries
Domestic violence services
TOTAL    $286,000

Birth of the Cherry Donations

STORY BY: Kari Costanza

Ralph Broetje had given up on the cherries. They hadn’t produced for four years. Ralph and his team of workers were pulling out their chainsaws when he had an idea: “Maybe we should give the cherry trees to ministry,” he said to his wife, Cheryl. “They’ll be the first fruits of the season that we give away.”

The next year the cherries flourished.

A decade later, the branches are heavy with ripe fruit. The 50-acre crop is good this year—in quality and size. The workers pick quickly, knowing all profits from this crop will be given away and that they’ll decide where the money will go.

“They get to choose. Should it be Brazil? Africa?” asks Sanjay Broetje (pronounced BRO-chee), who works for his parents’ business, fittingly named First Broetje CherriesFruits of Washington. Last year, the workers chose to donate nearly $400,000 from the First Fruits’ cherry crop to World Vision’s work with children in Africa who are affected by HIV/AIDS.

“What is happening to the children of Africa, the children of the streets—we need to help,” says Raul Zaragoza, 41, an orchard worker from Mexico.

Giving a company’s profits away to missions every year is unusual. Letting your workers decide where they will go is even more curious. First Fruits of Washington is no ordinary company.

This $60-million business, one of the largest privately held orchards in the world with 5,300 acres of fruit (primarily apples), does business a different way. Here, people are valued more than profits.

Under the bright skies of eastern Washington, orchard workers are as carefully tended and loved as the trees. The growth process is not always smooth, but the vision of the orchard never changes. It is a place where people can love God and serve one another. Even as apples are the company’s primary crop, cherries are the “first fruits” from which the Broetjes donate their profits.