Home Community Mukai Farm Seeks Barreling Plant Restoration Ideas from Potential Tenants

Mukai Farm Seeks Barreling Plant Restoration Ideas from Potential Tenants

Mukai Fruit Barreling Plant in 2021. All images: Mukai Farm & Garden

By N.A.P.

Friends of Mukai, a nonprofit group based on Vashon Island committed to the operation of Mukai Farm & Garden, is launching a campaign to restore and bring new activity to its historic Fruit Barreling Plant, the facility used by the Mukai family to process and pack their strawberry harvest. In order to identify the best possible tenant mix for the facility, Mukai has issued a “Request for Information” (RFI) to get ideas from prospective, qualified tenants.

Issei pioneer B.D. Mukai with a worker in the barreling plant.

FOM invites initial concepts from prospective tenants interested in operating at the historic barreling plant. Interested parties are invited to obtain the RFI by writing to info@mukaifarmandgarden.org. The RFI provides background about the building and seeks information from prospective tenants about their concept and background. After screening all proposed concepts, Mukai will contact a “shortlist” of potential tenants. 

barreling plant loading dock (2021).

“We would love to see a range of creative, implementable and sustainable ideas for potential uses of the barreling plant from individuals and organizations who are in a position to make those ideas into a reality,“ said Renee Roman, the FOM board member spearheading the restoration effort. 

Floor plan by BuildingWork (2019)

FOM envisions a range of possible uses including retail, food/beverage, education, arts, non-profit or for-profit businesses. Parts of the building will be devoted to interpretive displays and meeting/ performance activities that support Mukai’s nonprofit mission. The barreling plant includes 5,200 square feet of internal space, as well as a 1,530 square-foot covered veranda. FOM seeks responses only from individuals/organizations who have the relevant experience and financial means to assure a successful and sustainable tenancy. Tenants and developers would be responsible for a negotiated monthly lease and for tenant improvements with the lease rate at or below market.

Schedule: An open house on Sunday, March 13 will allow prospective tenants to tour the facility and ask questions about the project. Questions will also be answered and shared at www.mukaifarmandgarden.org. Responses to the RFI are due on April 15. Shortlisted tenants will be notified the first week of June. If fundraising for the project is successful, construction will be complete at the end of 2023. 

Context: The restoration of the 85-year-old building is the third and final major phase of the restoration of the historic Mukai Farm & Garden. As the last pre-WWII Japanese American farmstead standing in the United States, Mukai is a place of historic and cultural significance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. FOM has faithfully restored the Mukai home and Japanese garden in recent years, including the first Japanese garden designed by a JA woman in America. Mukai has become an increasingly popular place for public festivals, cultural programs, and special events throughout the year. The signature autumn Japan Festival draws up to 1,800 people in a single day. The project cost for the renovation of the Fruit Barreling Plant will be funded through a combination of government grants and philanthropic and community contributions. 

Sketch of renovated barreling plant (planned for late 2023)
Sketch of renovated barreling plant (planned for late 2023)

“Over the past several years, Mukai has grown as a community asset, offering classes, cultural events, and educational resources that celebrate community diversity, our immigrant stories and Japanese American history on Vashon Island,” said Roman. “We are excited about the opportunity to enhance our offerings by creating a renewed purpose for the Fruit Barreling Plant.” 

Mukai Farm & Garden

Open House: Sun Mar 13
Proposals due: Apr 15
Info: mukaifarmandgarden.org 

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.