One of the most wonderful signs of springtime is the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that begin appearing on store shelves. Those looking for the freshest locally grown selection must check out Sterino Farms Produce Market and plant nursery at 6006 52nd St. E. in Puyallup.
Having just re-opened for their third season on April 1, Sterino’s is all decked out with the colors, tastes, scents and visual delights of these warming days. The harvest continues throughout the summer and fall. For 28 years the Sterino family operated their produce stand in Fife, offering the highest quality fruits and vegetables on the Fife farm and selling it to wholesalers across the Pacific Northwest. The original stand served its loyal customers until 2006, when Sterino Farms centralized their operations at the Puyallup site. In May 2013, the family celebrated another new chapter in their 90-year farming history by opening their produce market in Puyallup fashioned after the original Fife produce stand.
“There was a large demand from the customers,” said Tim Curtis, who is part of Sterino’s staff. “We constantly heard, ‘When are you guys going to get a produce market open again?’ That was one of the driving forces for us to open our market in Puyallup and we have a lot of customers from Fife that have come back and new ones coming in. It’s been amazing.”
It’s clear that great care goes into everything Sterino’s offers its customers, and just one visit will prove to the most discriminating shopper that Sterino’s is the real deal when it comes to caring about what their customers feed their families.
Jake Sterino is the fourth generation of the Sterino family to operate this father/son business, right next to his dad Jack Sterino. “We bring in anything from this local area – from radishes to spinach to kale, green onions, bok choy…whatever is growing in this local area we bring it in,” Jake Sterino said. This is in addition to the produce Sterino’s itself grows as the largest farming outfit in Pierce County. Planting more than 700 acres throughout the Puyallup Valley, Sterino’s has a solid reputation among produce wholesalers across the country that supply Kroger, Safeway and other big chain supermarkets. All of the Farm’s produce is cut in the morning then cooled, delivered and on store shelves that afternoon, making it truly the freshest produce available.
“Right now we’re harvesting rhubarb and we’re shipping that all the way back to Detroit, Chicago, Texas… it’s really a special item,” said Curtis. “We bring in produce from other farms and some of that is sold here, and some of it goes out to the different markets.”
Sterino Farms is also currently harvesting leeks, among its other early spring produce choices. And this summer Sterino’s will have leaf and head lettuce, celery, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, cabbage and the Farm’s popular corn ripens perfectly in August. “Corn is a biggie here. We sell tons of that,” Curtis said.
In addition to produce, Sterino’s stocks a nice selection of convenience items too, like Smith Bros. milk and dairy products, jams from Puyallup Valley Jams, Timmons Honey from Graham, Sterino Farms frozen berries in five gallon buckets, Schwartz Brothers bakery items (new this season), shortcakes from Sakuma Brothers Farms in Mt. Vernon, pie mixes for banana cream pies and apple crisps…even bacon and eggs. Those who like their snacks on the spicy side will want to try Hampton Farm’s Hot Nuts from Georgia, in the shell and ready to enjoy. “You can’t buy them anywhere else in the Northwest,” Jake Sterino said.
Things are looking just as ship shape over at the plant nursery, managed by Jake Sterino’s son Gavin. He strives to bring in unique items that customers won’t find just anywhere, and it’s obvious that it has all been hand selected, much of it in larger sizes so that you can plant it at home and not have to wait for years for it to get a nice size. Sterino’s currently has more than 150 Japanese maple trees in 45-gallon pots ready for planting or display as is.
Gavin Sterino said he goes to great lengths to make the Sterino plant nursery reflect the excellence of the produce market. “One of the main things is we want to have that ‘wow factor’ when you come down,” he said. “Honestly, if you can’t find it here I don’t know where you’re going to be able to find it.”
Among the nursery stock are palm trees from California, raspberry plants, maple trees, Meyer lemon trees, spiral evergreens and evergreens sculpted into a variety of eye-catching shapes. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Sterino’s will have plenty of big, beautiful flower baskets that any mom would love to receive.
With the summer months approaching, something will always be happening at Sterino Farms, like barbecues and chile roasts – and in the fall look for Sterino’s bounty of pumpkins at a steal of a price. “Last year we sold $1 pumpkins and that was really well received,” Jake Sterino said. “We had people coming in from all over.”
“Like” Sterino Farms on Facebook to learn more and visit http://www.SterinoFarms.com.