I’m not sure which news I should report first: That Turtle Island Foods is expanding its tofurky production facility in Hood River or that it has a bocce ball court and putting greens on the ecoroof of its new plant.
Jaime Athos, executive vice president for Turtle Island, said the company has seen around 20 percent growth in demand for its meatless products every year for the past five years.
The company is aiming to expand production without having a lot of environmental impacts.
“As you grow and grow, sometimes you grow inefficiently,” said Athos. “What we were seeing is if we made the investment in the new facility we could do a lot more production without a lot of energy wasted.”
Turtle Island’s new 33,000-square-foot plant should reduce energy use from tofurky production by 40 to 50 percent, Athos said, though he won’t know for sure until it’s up and running.
The solar panels will cover almost all of the roof space that isn’t claimed by ecoroofing, the bocce ball and mini-golf putting greens.
Eighty percent of the materials used to build the plant were locally sourced, including a conference table cut from a 300-year-old cedar tree that was found floating down the Columbia nearby.
The new plant is still under construction and will come online this spring. The current plant will still produce tempeh and will be renovated for future production lines.
Why put a bocce ball court and putting greens on the ecoroof? Athos said it’s to allow visitors to enjoy the facility without going inside the plant where the food is made.
“We get a lot of people who are interested in touring our space, and for a lot of reasons involving food security we’re not able to do that,” he said. “We hope people coming in will be able to have public tours and look out over the production space from the ecoroof.”
In lieu of an actual tour, check out this video tour of the facility. It shows how they test the Tofurky Feast to make sure it has a meat-like texture.