FirstFruits Farms | Our Story
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Our Story

Bearing Fruit That Will Last

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17 NIV.

The Founding Dream

FirstFruits Farms has its roots in the birth and development of Broetje Orchards, a family-owned business that began as a daydream in the mind of Ralph Broetje. At the age of 15, Ralph remembers hearing a missionary from India speak about the suffering of children and then thinking….wouldn’t it be great to have an orchard and help kids some day?!   After marrying his wife, Cheryl, in 1967, the two built an organization with an ecumenical approach to both their work and living out their faith.

From their vision, Broetje Orchards became a recognized leader in the apple industry and for over 25 years as one of the largest privately owned apple orchards in the United States. Their business-as-ministry focus drew from the bible verse in John 15.

This scripture was the source of the company’s official mission statement:  “to be a quality fruit company committed to bearing fruit that will last.”

For more information on the Broetje family and their continued work, please visit Vista Hermosa Foundation.

First Fruits — The Next Chapter

Starting in 2019, ownership transferred to a new company, but the founding vision continues to shape the unique culture of our business.  While new goals and priorities will be set to grow the business into the future, we remain committed to developing relationships, building individual’s capacities and serving community in the workplace.

Our belief is that business does not have to thrive at the expense of the planet or its people, but can chart a course that provides employees, families, owners and communities an opportunity to grow and thrive.

We will continue to sustain this holistic work in three integrated ways:

FirstFruits Farms

The company’s acreage includes about 5,000 contiguous acres near Prescott, 625 in Benton City and another 550 devoted to certified organic productions in Wallula, WA. Once the fruit is picked from the field, it is quickly transported to our 12 million square foot storage and packing facility on site, ensuring the best quality product.

FirstFruits Community

In 1990, the Broetjes invested $5 million from their business to build on-site housing. The first residents named the community “Vista Hermosa,” which means “beautiful view.” Today the community is home to over 800 employees and their families, offering a variety of educational, health and recreation activities. 

FirstFruits Marketing

FirstFruits Marketing was started in 2009 as a collaborative apple marketing company with Congdon Orchards. Sharing in the larger mission of ‘bearing fruit that will last’, this organization was tasked with communicating the philanthropic spirit connected to the fruit sold under our label.

Core Values

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

1973

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 opens New Horizon Early Childhood Education Center 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

1991

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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Building on Success

1995

Broetje Orchards invested heavily into expanding orchards and infrastructure.
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Investing In Organics

2001

Broetje Orchards purchased an organic farm in Wallula, growing a variety of apples and cherries.
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Second Packing Line

2003

Balancing Economic Demand & Family Friendly Practices...
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Creation of the Tierra Vida Community

2005

Furthering Community Development...
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First Fruits Marketing

2009

Broetje Orchards creates First Fruits Marketing to re-emphasize it's cause-related Purpose.
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Opal® Apple

2010

Broetje Orchard’s exclusive and unique variety.
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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 Wellness in the Workplace

2015

The Vista Hermosa Health Clinic is born...
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Moving Forward

2016

Continuing to live out the mission and vision.
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