Pickles make a return to Skagit County

By Mark Stayton, June 16, 2014, Skagit Valley Herald

Pickle and sauerkraut manufacturing is coming back to Skagit County. Gielow Pickles of Michigan recently signed a 10-year lease to locate a vegetable processing plant at the Port of Skagit’s Bayview Business Park.

Vice President Craig Gielow said he plans to open the facility in September, in time for the fall cucumber harvest. The plant will operate year-round, processing cucumbers and cabbage from a wide swath of the West Coast, including Skagit County, according to the port.

Gielow said he estimates employment at the plant will start at 25 when it opens and grow to 40 long-term.

Port Commissioner Steven Omdal said the Gielow decision is an important step in providing agricultural infrastructure for local farmers.

“We are very happy to have Gielow Pickles here in the Skagit Valley. Over the past several decades, we have witnessed one food processor after another — and the jobs they supported — exit the valley until all were gone,” Omdal said. “Now, thanks to the hard work of a lot of people, processing is coming back.”

Gielow, a fifth-generation family-owned company, lost a bid to buy Mount Vernon pickle manufacturer Pleasant Valley Farms out of bankruptcy last year.

The Pleasant Valley facility supported 80 employees when it closed down in August and held contracts to purchase the produce of 1,000 acres of cucumbers and 47 acres of cabbage in Skagit County.

The port is working with the company to improve a portion of a 70,000-square-foot production facility, the former site of Triton Aerospace.

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