The Sterino family began farming raspberries in Fife, Wash., in the 1920s. Four generations later, Jake Sterino now runs the farm, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father.
Jake works closely with our Produce Director, Joe Pulicicchio, to bring a variety of local crops to our markets. He also grows some items for our Flower Shops - bringing us hanging baskets, planters, live basil and bedding plants.
Jake farms 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 wide variety of other berries including currants, gooseberries and tayberries. 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 – besides assuring the best quality and quantity for our customers - 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 since have dubbed these the “Unknown Blackberry” and look forward to their brief season in early July.