Treworgy Orchards donates funds from a “tip jar”

How one small family orchard is making a big difference

Article by Maddie Christy

In its first season, Treworgy Orchards failed. Gary and Patty Treworgy planted a whole bunch of apple trees only to watch them all die. They thought maybe the business of being farmers wasn’t for them. Instead, they decided to give it another try and plant just one acre the next season. This time, the apple trees survived. Acre by acre, they expanded. From apples to pumpkins and then onto berries, Treworgy Orchards has been growing ever since. 

We have learned that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, and it’s exciting to extend the invitation to others to be part of it.
— Jon Kenerson

About 19 years ago, the family-run farm in Maine added an ice cream shop, a petting zoo, and a corn maze. Today, Treworgy Orchards offers a full farm experience. From May to December, activities include strawberry picking, hayrides, and even cutting fresh Christmas trees.

At Treworgy Orchards, you are encouraged to pick your own fruits and vegetables. They are passionate about getting families out on the farm and making memories together. But it’s about even more than that. 

“Our main focus is to create spaces where people can connect in community and where they can connect with the land through agriculture,” said Jon Kenerson, CEO and son-in-law of the Treworgys. “We hope it’s a place where people can connect to God through those experiences in community.”

The ECHO tip jar sits at the counters anywhere there is a register at Treworgy Orchards. | Photos courtesy of Jon Kenerson

The ECHO tip jar sits at the counters anywhere there is a register at Treworgy Orchards. | Photos courtesy of Jon Kenerson

That’s where ECHO fits in perfectly with the mission of Trewory Orchards. 

“When I started looking into ECHO our visions really aligned, it just seemed like a natural partnership,” said Kenerson. “ECHO is working with agriculture to do dignifying and meaningful work for some of the most impoverished people in the world.”

Treworgy Orchards wanted to partner in that work. They began supporting ECHO a couple years ago as part of their regular charitable giving. Since generosity is a core value of the business, they give 1% of their overall sales every year to multiple charities. 

The staff at Treworgy Orchards were recently inspired by their ice cream supplier to go above and beyond in their giving by donating the money they collected in tips jars. They graciously decided that these additional proceeds would also go to ECHO. To Kenerson, specifying that the money in the tip jars goes towards ECHO was a wonderful way to give back with the success they’ve been given and raise awareness at the same time. 

Treworgy Orchards sees their donation with the tip jars as only the tip of the iceberg. 

“So many of us have been given so much, and I think we have a responsibility to give to those who are less fortunate than us,” said Kenerson. “We have learned that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, and it’s exciting to extend the invitation to others to be part of it.” 

They hope the tip jars are a way of inspiring others to find a creative way to partner with organizations they care about.

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Hungry to Learn: Staff from Thailand and Florida team up to train Laotian Pastors

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When Sang* became a Christian, his neighbor cut down his corn field.  The police didn’t come to his aid because they didn’t support his faith either. It was the pastor of his church that looked out for his family and helped him try to replant his field. Pastors in Laos deal with persecution each day, and many have been jailed for a time. They are also bi-vocational which means they are farmers, as well as pastors, to provide for their families. 

In late October, ECHO Asia Farm Manager, Sombat, as well as four other staff,  trained 70 Laotian pastors for three days at the Village of Hope, Thailand. Topics included Soil Health, Plant Life, Deep Litter Pig System, Banana Stalk Silage, and Livestock. Interns Dani Hurlbutt and Elizabeth Casey shared techniques that they learned on the ECHO Global Farm in Florida with the pastors.  “They were hungry to learn,” shares Dani. “When Sombat was teaching grafting they were taking close-up pictures and crowding in to see.” 

Below: Laotian pastors gather closely to ECHO farm manager Sombat as he teaches a seminar on grafting. Above: Sombat demonstrates an improved cookstove.

Below: Laotian pastors gather closely to ECHO farm manager Sombat as he teaches a seminar on grafting. Above: Sombat demonstrates an improved cookstove.

During the session on banana stalk silage, the pastors learned how to finely chop banana stalks, mix with molasses and sugar and let the fermentation process produce a nutritious feed supplement for pigs. The pastors commented that they used to boil the banana stalks for 2-3 hours to be able to feed them to their livestock. This technique will now save them both water and firewood, and improve the health of their animals.  

ECHO staff and volunteers were honored to share the knowledge with the pastors, and were greatly encouraged to learn from them as well. Then, every afternoon they taught nearly 80 children from the children’s home! It was fun and rewarding as the Laotian pastors were extremely enthusiastic and were very involved and engaged. The children had loads of fun too, getting muddy and learning how to garden!

Our local partner is already excited about next year’s training... and so are we!