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A-Z History of Sumner, Washington - Agriculture

Provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times and the City of Sumner.


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Agriculture

From the time Sumner was settled in 1853, agriculture played a central role in it’s growth. Fertile valley soil has been home to a variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Crops have died, barely survived, and flourished freely under the twin dictates of disaster and demand.

A Steilacoom school teacher named John Meeker delivered the first of Sumner’s hops to his father’s preemption claim in 1865. By 1880, the cultivation and export of hops to breweries across the nation had reached its peak. A lice infestation destroyed most hops production in 1890. The hops moved on to a dryer climate in eastern Washington. So did asparagus, which had it’s heyday as a Sumner crop in the early to mid-1900’s.

Farmers started to rely on raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries for their livelihood. They banded together to market and then process their berries for sale, finally creating the Puyallup-Sumner Fruit Growers Association’s first president was Wh. H. Paulhamus, who later became Vice President and then President of the Puyallup Fair. He made a line of preserves from Sumner berries called Paul’s Jams and Jellies, prized across the country for its color and flavor.

Sumner’s first field rhubarb was produced in 1893. By 1908, local farmers had organized the Sumner Rhubarb Growers Association to market the crop. In 1915 farmer Bill Dobson found a way to force rhubarb plants in sheds. Sumner’s shipments of hothouse rhubarb are still a signal of early spring in many regions through out the nation.

Flower bulbs-iris, daffodils, and tulips-are cultivated in abundance, zealously promoted, and celebrated in large ways and small in Sumner. Sumner flower growers joined a movement to ban the import of bulbs from the East in 1926, successfully protecting local crops from competition. The first Daffodil Festival was held in 1934, was traded back and forth between Puyallup and Sumner for a number of years, and is now the third ranking floral parade in the nation. And school board director Tom Knutson will stride the halls of the school district building as early as January’s second week, tossing tulip bouquets from Knutson Farms onto the desks of delighted office staff, or even into the arms of visitors who have managed to time their arrivals just right.

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Information on these pages is provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times Staff and The City of Sumner, Wa.

Main History page | Puyallup History | Sumner History |The Puyallup Indians | The Puyallup Fair | Read more about Ezra Meeker | Read more about William Kincaid |Why Daffodil Valley? | History of the Daffodil Festival | Indian War of 1855
All historical information has been compiled through the hard work and diligence of the Daffodil Valley Times staff. Anyone may copy this information for private or public use provided links are given to Daffodil Valley Times (http://www.daffodilvalleytimes.com) and full credit is given to Daffodil Valley Times. Thank you!

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