Thursday, July 3, 2014

FIRSTFRUITS NEWS - JULY 2014







Here at Broetje Orchards we are passionate about growing great apples, cherries, and people!

Thanks to you, we grow some of the best fruit in the world....and together we are growing stronger, healthier families....men and women, boys and girls.

Ralph and I were talking about the orchard the other day. I asked him how many acres we now have in organics. He said about 1,000 acres. We talked about how we can only use natural, bio-degradable processes to take care of trees in those blocks....no chemical pesticides.

One of the things they do differently in organic blocks is to use hoes to keep the weeds away from trees.  Weeds threaten to suck the water and nutrients out of the soil that trees need to grow great fruit. So we dig in the soil around those trees to let in air, water, sunlight, and other nutrients.

I got to thinking: People are also organic! When bad weeds start growing in our lives, we may feel like spraying a pesticide to get rid of them.  Have you ever felt like spraying your spouse or even the kids? The problem is that the cure might just kill them! 

But when we use tools like love, compassion, community, respect and purpose to dig around the soil of their lives, it's a healthier way to help people grow.  Hoeing is labor intensive:
¨ It takes more time;
¨ It's hard work, but it pays off over time.

The results show up in things like:
  •  Vista Hermosa Elementary-you could actually hear the kindergarten class growing in love, joy and wisdom at their graduation this Spring
  •  Our ESL class-participants seem thrilled with their increasing ability to communicate in English
  •  Our scholarship program-students are learning and preparing to lead and serve in amazing ways
  •  And many others are finding opportunities for new beginnings in their lives because of the care and compassion you show.  This is fruit that can last forever!

Together this is the team that makes it all possible. Whether you are hoeing around trees or people, you are making a difference!! So thank you and ..........KEEP ON HOEING!!!!                                By: Cheryl Broetje


Vista Hermosa Foundation

Vista Hermosa Foundation was busy during the first half of 2014, distributing just over $3 million in grants to the following  organizations.  These grants focus on Kenya, India, Haiti, Mexico and the USA, and seek to support the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, including subsistence farmers, women, children, and immigrants. Thanks to all of you who work with us to make these partnerships possible!
Organization    Project / country
Care of Creation  Environmental Conservation, Kenya
SLEC International Servant Leadership Training, Kenya
Partners Worldwide Agri-business, Uganda and Kenya
IDEAS   Central Asia Harvest Project
Good Shepherd  Human Trafficking, Guntur District, India
Mercy Corps  Dairy and potato farmers, India
IDEX/GRAVIS Integrated Development, Thar Desert
IDEX/Sahyog Santhan Self-Help Groups, Udaipur, India
Food for Hungry/YWAM New Life for the Banchada, India
Operation Equip India Sitara Women's Empowerment, India
Beyond Borders Child Protection Campaign, Haiti
Fonkoze 'Pathway to a Better Life' program, Haiti
Haiti Partners Children's Academy/Schools, Haiti
Yankuik Erandi Rural AC Small Farmers Network, Mexico
Fundacion Leon Capacity building, Oaxaca, Mexico
Plant with Purpose Community Development,  Mexico
Agros International Regional Development, Nicaragua
Christian Community Dev. Assoc. Indigenous Leadership, USA
Am. Friends Service Committee Farmworker Rights, USA
Nat'l Immigration Forum Evangelical Immigration Table, USA
Sojourners Comprehensive Immigration Reform, USA

In June, some of us spent a week working in Washington DC to advocate for immigration reform.  Immigration has been a vital issue for all of us at Broetje Orchards, for our communities and the country.  Over the years, we have worked with our faith partners, the agricultural industry, law enforcement and a host of other groups and individuals to fix this system that has torn families apart, undermined our economy and caused harm to the reputation of the United States. 

Most central to our efforts has been to push our Congressional leaders to find courage and pass new legislation.  Sadly, although the US Senate approved a comprehensive package in 2013, our House of Representatives has yet to act.  Five bills are ready to be put to the House floor, but leadership has been unwilling to allow a vote to occur. 

Meanwhile, our nation and those currently undocumented suffer.  Our faith says a nation is judged on how it treats those most in need and, through the lens of immigration, our lawmakers are failing.

Those advocating for immigration reform have worked tirelessly, but many in Congress are still not connected to those most affected and therefore are insensitive to the immediate need for action.  This is where your voice and your vote are most urgently needed. 

Many of our Congressional representatives are currently seeking re-election and others are trying to replace them.  Those running must see and feel the realities of our failed immigration system.  This can best be accomplished by exercising your right to vote.  This is particularly true for Latinos.  This demographic group is the fastest growing voting block in the United States, and also happens to be disproportionately affected by our failed immigration system.  Unfortunately, Latino voter turnout is low (48% in 2012).  Please find your voice this year and vote.  We need everyone to be heard.

Returning last month from Washington DC, the challenge became very clear.  We need to act and make the urgency for change felt during this election cycle.  Failing to do so only prolongs the ability of our lawmakers to hide from this issue and from acting.





This summer we have 16 middle school and high school students participating in a leadership camp as part of the Summer Youth Program in the Vista Hermosa Community.  To be selected for this leadership camp, students wrote essays, demonstrated outstanding academics, and participated in an interview process.  During the seven-week program, they will explore answers to three important questions:  Who am I; What is my role in my community; and How can I change my community? 
In this process of exploration, youth will be discovering their unique gifts, learning how to be peer mentors and leaders, discovering global and local issues they care personally about, and considering how they can make their community a better place to live in... for themselves and for those who come after them. 
During the first week, they identified five areas they care about:  Education, Homelessness, Environment, Hunger, and Human Rights.
On Friday, June 27th, they volunteered with Field of Grace to glean fruit.  This local non-profit began when 2nd Harvest Tri-Cities voiced a need for fresh produce in their food banks and farmers wanted to donate a portion of their crops, but needed help.  Our youth also visited Saint Vincent de Paul food bank in Pasco, which was the beneficiary of the apples and cherries they gleaned.    By: Karen Baker


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