Ostrom’s Mushroom Farm, a major Thurston County employer that has grown mushrooms near Lacey since the late 1960s, will close the farm by the end of the year and shift production to a new plant in the Yakima area, the president said Tuesday.
Now, nearly 240 farm workers will be affected by the closure, Ostrom’s president David Knudsen said. About 40 employees in packing and shipping will continue to work into 2020, he said.
Employees were notified about the closure on Monday.
The Olympian reported about a year ago that the farm was closing, but Knudsen said then that operations were expanding, not closing. Knudsen said the 35-acre farm had simply run out of room for growth, which led the business to purchase property at the Port of Sunnyside for a new, 43-acre growing facility.
“The community had grown up around us here (in Thurston County), and we loved being here, but it’s not the right place for a mushroom farm anymore,” he said. “We needed to do it somewhere else.”
Employees have been encouraged to apply for openings in Sunnyside, he said, and some already have inquired about housing in that area. “If they are an employee in good standing, we would love to have them,” Knudsen said.
Employees who stay through the end of the year will receive a bonus, he said. The company also plans to pay out accrued vacation time and sick leave.
But Knudsen warned the farm might close early if worker productivity drops off. After the company announced it was closing a Whatcom County-based operation, it closed earlier than expected due to a drop in productivity, he said.