The area setting in the river valley formed by the Carbon and Puyallup Rivers has a long history of farming and rural enterprises. The valley floor is comprised of rich alluvial river deposit soils, which make the local climate and soil conditions ideal for cultivation. This rich valley area supported the crops that drove the early economy of Puyallup and nearby towns. The geology of the area and the presence of its flood plains provided rich land that sustained agricultural development in the second half of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century. Currently, the downtown Puyallup area is in an early stage of an agricultural renewal with organic growers discovering that these productive resources fit economically viable farming systems.
For many decades, the Puyallup Valley has witnessed farm consolidation and transition of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses. Farmland has been converted into residential, commercial, and industrial uses. Most of the small family farms have been replaced by a few remaining larger farms. More recently, many landowners with larger property holdings have leased their land to other farmers, or passively hold their land as they pursue off-farm jobs, retirement, or initiate property transfer to the next generation. Rarely are members of the next generation farmers.
The original name of the Puyallup tribe was “spwiya’laphabsh”, which meant generous or welcoming people. Puyallup is one of Washington State’s oldest cities and it contains a significant number of historic properties that reflect its origin as an agricultural settlement dating from the 1850s. Located eight miles east of Tacoma and Commencement Bay, the town was founded on the south side of the Puyallup River in the late 1870s and its urban environment represents nearly 140 years of development.
Bulbs were raised in small acreages by the 1910s, and by 1920, bulb growers in Pierce County raised nearly 60% of those in Washington State. By the late 1920s, an estimated 150 acres in the valley were planted with bulbs. Daffodils made up 90% of the bulb crop. The bulb crop gave rise to a special local event, the Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival. It began initially as a celebration of blooming of flowers in 1926 and developed into an event with a parade, which has been celebrated since except for during the war years of the 1940s. The parade route, through Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting, was established in 1934.
In the mid-1800’s, subsistence farming was prevalent. Principal crops were oats, rye, barley, potatoes, peas, fruit trees, and vegetables. Later in the 19th century, hops became a valuable crop. Hops were replaced in the early 1900s with bulbs, flowers, milk, berries, vegetables, and fruit orchards. Christmas tree farms and ornamental nurseries are currently a small, but stable aspect of agricultural land use. The types of crops grown continue to change over time with a few conventional growers producing berry and vegetable crops. In recent years, there are clear signs of the return of small farms that grow organic and sustainably produced fruits and vegetables.
After acquiring some acreage on the edge of the Puyallup River in 2022, River's Edge Lavender Farm was established as Puyallup's first lavender farm. Under the mentorship of world-renowned lavender farmer, Victor Gonzalez, our lavender is harvested for use in high quality, all-natural health & beauty products.
We currently have approximately 2,000 plants of multiple varieties: Grosso, Royal Velvet, Melissa, Phenomenal, and Hidcote Giant.
In 2024, we will be collaborating with local Cockrell Cider Farm to plant lavender throughout their orchard. Cockrell's will continue making what has become a seasonal favorite, Lavender Lemonade cider.