Strawberries & Karen Refugees in the Coronastorm

Today, the view from my window changed a bit.  Dan is out in the field, uncovering strawberry plants.  It’s a relief to see tractors in the field, new plants peeking into the air, and the promise of a new season.

Thinking of strawberries inspired me to call some of the teenagers who have worked on our farm before to find out how they are doing.  Of course, I hope they are all doing well and that they are able to work for us again this summer, but I wanted to know about one group in particular. Brouwer Berries has had the pleasure of partnering with Karen refugees from Burma now living in Willmar, and I wanted to know how they are weathering the coronastorm.  

They told me such stories of hope!  Hsa, who graduated from Willmar Public High last spring, has been studying at Ridgewater College.  Switching to distance-learning has been challenging, and she’s glad there are only a few weeks left. She can’t work at the mall during the shutdown, but she is making a little bit of money as a PCA.  She is the only income-earner in the family, which has led her to think of all the other Karen people in the community who are struggling right now.  She is helping the Kandiyohi County Food Shelf by connecting its’ services to people in the Karen community.   She encourages you all to donate to the Food Shelf if you are able, and to tell people in your community who might need food, that there is help available. To learn more, click here

Hsa at Brouwer Berries

T.T.W, a junior at Willmar Public High School, described the challenges of helping her little brother with his school work.  Her parents don’t speak English, and her brother doesn’t speak Karen.  This is a problem in the best of times, but the problem is even larger during distance-learning! T.T.W told me such an interesting story of her parents’ visit to Burma this winter.  It was meant to just be a family visit, but it turned into a missionary visit, as so many people in the villages were eager to hear her dad preach and talk about Jesus.  “They were hungry to hear the gospel!” she said.  She also described how the Karen people in Burma do not care about the coronavirus, because the Burmese soldiers are still burning Karen villages, and “when you are running for your life, you cannot care about a virus.”  She is so grateful to be living in Willmar.  

T.T.W. at Brouwer Berries

These are beautiful, wonderful girls.  They are a blessing to our farm, and a blessing to the Willmar community.  I am looking forward to having them back at Brouwer Berries this summer, just as I am looking forward to having YOU back at our farm! 

We’ve been participating in many grower webinars, and watching how growers in the southern states are managing the harvest during this pandemic.  There are many steps that we will be taking to enable social distancing on the farm, and allow for a safe harvest for both pre-picked and U-pick strawberries.   I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to harvest. 

With love, from Sarah Brouwer and family

Dan & Sarah Brouwer with four of their children the last day of the 2019 harvest

P.S.   You’ve put up with too much sheltering-in-place to miss the three week strawberry harvest in June. YOU are ESSENTIAL to Brouwer Berries!  Subscribe to our newsletter now to make sure you are part of the harvest! 

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