For many, strategies include more than just nuturing the earth - The Packer

For many, strategies include more than just nuturing the earth

07/12/2013 02:09:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Courtesy First FruitsRalph Broetje, owner of Broetje Orchards, surveys his fields. As part of its sustainability efforts, Broetje Orchards uses variable-speed motors and fan cycling to conserve energy and maintain temperatures in storage. For some companies, sustainability is about more than just being a good steward of the earth.

Village Farms International, Vancouver, British Columbia, is one such company.

“We try to think of sustainability as more than just environment. It’s good for the economy, for the community members, and good for the earth,” said Douglas Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

In addition, Kling says new varieties are being developed to have better flavor, which will help people eat more produce.

There are more than just the health benefits to this, though.

“That makes the business more sustainable and helps farming systems advance,” Kling said.

Other companies share the mindset that sustainable practices should cover all areas of the business.

“Ralph and Cheryl see this orchard as the basis of livelihood for their family, but also for the 450 people who live on the ranch and the 1,000 or so that work there,” Keith Matthews, head of sales and marketing for FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, said about Ralph Broetje and his wife, who own Broetje Orchards.

FirstFruits, a Yakima, Wash.-based, grower-owned sales agency, is the sales entity for Broetje Orchard fruit.

Broetje Orchards has done a lot to ensure their sustainability efforts are successful.

“This is a long-term productive farm, and when you intend to be here for generations, if you aren’t good at sustainability, you can wear out the nutrients in the soil and not have it to live on for future generations,” Matthews said.

In addition to recycling the green waste and limiting chemical use, the company also uses variable-speed motors and a strategy called fan cycling to conserve energy while maintaining temperatures in storage.

“They also have multimillion-gallon reservoirs on top of nearby hills so they can pump water from those at night when no one else is using the water,” Matthews said.

The packing line is also lit largely by skylight on sunny days, reducing the need for energy to light the inside of the building.

“It saves cost and energy and is a good sustainable aspect,” Matthews said.

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