The Lacey Food Bank's farm stand and a garden are expected to be ready by year's end, the executive director of the organization said during a groundbreaking ceremony held Tuesday at the Martin Way East site.
But if you are among the hundreds of people who are expected to use the food bank's general store, you'll have to wait until the first quarter of 2020, said Robert Coit of the Thurston County Food Bank.
Coit said he expects to secure building permits for the general store in the first quarter of 2019, followed by an opening a year from then.
Asked if the project was behind schedule, Coit said the nonprofit is subject to the same permitting process as any organization or business.
Although the project is called the Lacey Food Bank, it's technically located in unincorporated Thurston County, which means the property was subject to the county's Mazama pocket gopher review process. That review is complete, Coit said, but some stormwater retention issues need to be addressed on the property.
The site at 7027 Martin Way East doesn't look like much now — it was once home to a business called Colonial Meats — but soon the building that faces Martin Way will be transformed into a farm stand. And land at the very rear of the site will be turned into a garden that will be managed by the nonprofit GRuB (Garden-Raised Bounty) and tended to by veterans.
That's where about 70 people gathered for Tuesday's ceremony, including Coit and a smattering of public officials and school children. The total budget for the project is $3 million, 60 percent of which has been raised, Coit said.
"The food bank, its staff, board and volunteers are excited by the opportunity to put into practice everything we have learned operating a food bank in Olympia and apply it to Lacey's food bank," Coit told the audience.
The first phase of the project was to buy the 1.5-acre site, secure the abandoned buildings, and connect them again to water and power. The second phase, which was announced Tuesday, is the farm stand and garden. The farm stand, Coit said, will be able to provide produce in bulk. The third phase is the general store, he said.
Why open a food bank in Lacey? Twenty-two percent of the people using the downtown Olympia food bank live in Lacey, according to food bank records.
Food bank board member and Thurston County Treasurer Jeff Gadman said not only is the Lacey location needed for Lacey residents, but it will be more convenient for those from outlying communities such as Rainier and Yelm.