Around this time of year, Picha Farms in Puyallup is known for its pumpkins and its corn maze.
But its raspberries are also stealing the spotlight this October.
Picha Farms raspberries will be featured on “State Plate,” a television show hosted by former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. Every season, Hicks assembles plates in different states that reflect that state’s famous foods and flavors.
Hosted by former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, “State Plate” follows Hicks as he travels across the country to assemble dishes that represent each state’s famous foods and flavors.
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When the second season of his show brought him to Washington state, Hicks wanted to seek out locally grown raspberries as part of the dessert portion of the plate he created.
His quest led him to Dan and Russ Picha, owners of Picha Farms.
When they were initially contacted for the show, the two brothers were excited.
“We thought it was pretty cool,” said Dan, 62.
As a farmer, Russ said that it made sense for raspberries to be a part of Washington’s plate.
“Washington is the top-selling state in the nation for raspberries,” said Russ, 55.
Washington is the top selling state in the nation for raspberries.
Russ Picha, owner of Picha Farms
With the brothers on board, Hicks and his crew visited Picha’s Berry Farm at 6502 52nd St. E. in July. At first, Dan and Russ weren’t sure of what to expect when the crew arrived bright and early at 6 a.m., but the brothers’ crews were already out harvesting the raspberries, which grow on about 10 out of the farm’s 60 acres. During raspberry season from the end of June to the end of the July, crews harvest every day between 5 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“They were in the mix of daily activities,” Dan said about the production crew.
For the last 10 years, Picha Farms has done a “U-Pick,” where customers can come pick their own batch of berries. Hicks got to experience that, too.
“We got to pick the raspberries right off the vine and they were bursting with flavor,” Hicks said.
We got to pick the raspberries right off the vine and they were bursting with flavor.
Taylor Hicks, host of “State Plate”
Dan and Russ said they never experienced TV like this before, but at the end of the day it was a fun experience. Savory and Sweet Catering Company in Puyallup shared its raspberry tarts made with Picha Farms raspberries with the “State Plate” crew, and the brothers showed them around Puyallup while sharing their family’s legacy.
Dan and Russ are the third generation to carry on Picha Farms, which was established in 1904 by their grandfather. Their father carried on the tradition and now Dan and Russ do the same, providing locally fresh pumpkins and berries. Growing up, they spent a lot of time out working at the farm.
“That was our way of life,” Dan said. “It could be hard to get up in the summer, but at the end of the day it was rewarding.”
“I don’t think we’d be here if we didn’t like it,” Russ added.
And they don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Even as their farm is now half of what it used to do, they plan to continue the tradition for as long as they can. Now, they split their time between working at the farm and teaching in the Puyallup School District. A teacher for 38 years, Dan teaches social studies at Puyallup High School. Russ teaches science at Aylen Junior High, and has been a teacher for 33 years.
“Teaching keeps us connected to the community,” Russ said.
Russ and Dan said they’re both excited to watch the Washington “State Plate” episode, which premieres at 5 p.m. Oct. 27 on INSP, a family-entertainment television network based in Charlotte, North Carolina that is available nationwide to more than 83 million households. The episode also features food from University Place, Olympia and Seattle.
“It was really awesome that they contacted us to represent the raspberry version of their plate,” Dan said. “We’re excited to see how they project our farm.”
It was really awesome that they contacted us to represent the raspberries version of their plate. We’re excited to see how they project our farm.
Dan Picha, owner of Picha Farms
They said Hicks was fun to work with and really entertaining. Hicks agreed.
“They were great guys, (and) very knowledgeable,” Hicks said about Dan and Russ.
Hicks said it was his first time visiting Puyallup and he loved the views, which are much different than what he was used to growing up in Alabama.
“Hopefully not my last (time in Puyallup),” Hicks said. “The Valley’s cool ... Had a blast.”
To find out more about INSP and “State Plate,” visit insp.com.