Back in the 1920s, Jake Sterino’s great-grandfather began farming raspberries in Fife, WA. Jake now runs the farm, with help from his dad Jack (who is retired but still rides the tractor around to keep busy).
They farm 300-400 acres in the Puyallup valley and an additional 100 acres east of the mountains. These fields are packed full of berries and various vegetable crops. We’ve been selling Jake’s produce for many years and have always appreciated the excellent quality of the food he grows.
Our “Sterino season” begins in early summer with red raspberries, soon followed by a variety of other berries. As the summer progresses, we offer Jake’s harvests of lettuce, cabbage, beans, celery and sweet corn. In early fall we’ll have his winter squash, gourds, pie pumpkins and truckloads of gorgeous carving pumpkins.
One of the benefits of having a close relationship to a local farmer is that we get to know some of the stories of the farm and crops. Like the one about “The Unknown Berry.”
Puyallup farmer George Richter grew some of the best berries in the Northwest. In fact, The New York Times once declared his raspberries the best in the country. But he was always in pursuit of new berry varieties. In 2002, George came across a nameless blackberry variety that grew large with fantastic flavor and fewer seeds than most. He was so impressed he planted an entire field.
Unfortunately George died just a few months before the first harvest of this new crop. Jake Sterino purchased George’s farm and began selling these blackberries to our Produce Markets. We’ve since dubbed them the “Unknown Blackberry” and look forward to their brief season in early July.