Deal will bring $25 million mushroom facility to Sunnyside

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YAKIMA HERALD – MAI HOANG

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — An Olympia-based mushroom farm plans to open a $25 million facility here in two years that will bring 200 jobs to the area.

Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms has signed an agreement with the Port of Sunnyside to purchase 25 acres at Midvale and Duffy roads, south of Interstate 82. There is also an option to buy an additional 20 acres.

Ostrom’s president David Knudsen said the port property was ideal due to its proximity to a wastewater plant and the region’s agricultural labor force.

“This seems like a really good fit,” he said during a phone interview Friday.

Ostrom, which has been in business since 1928, grows a variety of mushrooms — including white, crimini and portabella — that are shipped to consumers in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. The company employs 300 growers, pickers and packers at its Olympia-area facility.

The Sunnyside farm, which will have 48 grow rooms and a compost facility, will enable the company to resume production lost when it closed its farm last month in Everson, near Bellingham.

Built in 1980, the Everson facility was described earlier by the company as small, aging, not cost-effective and increasingly difficult to attract labor.

The Sunnyside deal also allows the company to build a more technologically advanced and efficient facility, Knudsen said.

“We have a nice customer base and increasing demand,” he said. “We need to increase our production and doing it on our existing site (in Olympia didn’t) make sense.”

The Port of Sunnyside, with help from the Yakima County Development Association, the county’s economic development arm, has been working on the deal since last year, when it heard about Ostrom’s expansion plans.

“It’s a huge growth opportunity for the community of Sunnyside and the entire Yakima Valley,” said Jay Hester, executive director for the Port of Sunnyside.

Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms now has 180 days to complete due diligence before closing on the purchase. The company already has completed much of that work.

“We’re pretty confident it will work,” Hester said. The company plans to have the plant up and running by the spring or summer of 2019.

Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Yakima County Development Association, notes that the company will bring a whole new — though complementary — industry to the region.

“It’s a diversification within agriculture,” Smith said in a phone interview Friday. “It ties perfectly with what we already have here.”