Broetje Orchards | Our Story
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Our Story

Bearing Fruit That Will Last
Ralph Orchd3

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, he 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.

About Us

From their vision, Broetje Orchards became a recognized leader in the apple industry, and for over 25 years has been one of the largest privately owned apple orchards in the United States.

Their business-as-ministry focus has developed over these many years seeking to honor the following scripture:

“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)

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.”

Serving as the company’s inspiration, this mission statement reflects Ralph and Cheryl’s early experiences and also how we currently work within the business – developing relationships, building individual’s’ capacities and serving communities.

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.

A Timeline of Progress

The Dream


Ralph's dream is born...

A Rough Beginning


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

Early Success


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

The Move


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

Remembering The Dream


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

The Center For Sharing


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

First Packing Line


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

Investing in Families


The company opens New Horizon Early Childhood Education Center on site.

Building Community


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

Vista Hermosa Foundation


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

Building on Success


Broetje Orchards invested heavily into expanding orchards and infrastructure.

Investing In Organics


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

Second Packing Line


Balancing Economic Demand & Family Friendly Practices...

Creation of the Tierra Vida Community


Furthering Community Development...

First Fruits Marketing


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

Opal® Apple


Broetje Orchard’s exclusive and unique variety.

Seeking Immigration Reform


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

Advancing Wellness in the Workplace


The Vista Hermosa Health Clinic is born...

Moving Forward


Continuing to live out the mission and vision.

Center for Sharing

In 1986, Cheryl Broetje founded the Center For Sharing which is a faith-based experiential learning community around the teaching and practice of servant leadership that is focused on the need to move from charity to development in order to prepare people to lead themselves.

Vista Hermosa Foundation

Established by Ralph and Cheryl Broetje in 1990 to carry out the mission of “bearing fruit that will last,” the Vista Hermosa Foundation became the philanthropic arm of the Broetje family.   VHF invests in the development of holistic, sustainable communities in East Africa, India, Haiti, Mexico, and the United States.

FirstFruits Marketing

FirstFruits of Washington was started in 2009 as a collaborative apple marketing company owned by the growers, Broetje and Congdon Orchards. Sharing in the mission established by Ralph and Cheryl, this organization was tasked with communicating the philanthropic spirit connected to the fruit sold under out label.

Our Core Values