Ostrom’s president: Business is expanding to Sunnyside, but Lacey area farm to remain

Ostrom’s Mushroom president David Knudsen clarified Monday that the business’ longtime farm near Lacey is not moving or closing, but the company is going to expand into a new location east of the Cascades in Sunnyside.

“The future of our business is at a new location, not that (the Lacey site) is going away,” he said to clarify Monday. He described the Lacey operation as a “viable, going concern.”

Weekend reports indicated the expansion in Sunnyside meant the Lacey site would close.

Knudsen’s message likely is welcome relief to the 275 to 300 employees who work at the 34-acre site off Steilacoom Road near Lacey. Ostrom’s, which has been in business 90 years, has owned the Thurston County property since the 1960s, Knudsen said, but expanding there is not an option now that neighborhoods have developed around it. The farm grows mushrooms indoors, but neighbors have complained about smells from outdoor compost piles.

Expansion is an option in Yakima County, however. In the next 12-15 months, Ostrom’s expects to open a new farm on a 43-acre site at the Port of Sunnyside, close to a wastewater plant and the region’s agricultural labor force. Knudsen said operations there could employ 240.

He said the business needs to replace the production it lost when it closed a 60-acre farm in Whatcom County about a year ago.

Knudsen testified before a House committee in February, seeking a tax break to help with the Sunnyside plant, according to the Capital Press, an agricultural news website. The tax break wasn’t approved, according to Capital Press, but the business did secure a $1 million appropriation from the Legislature that will be used to stabilize the ground at the port.

Ostrom’s grows a variety of mushrooms — including white, crimini and portabella — that are shipped to consumers in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. They already are the state’s largest mushroom farm.