The developer calls it a, “balance of preservation and progress.”
The Workshop, a coffee shop and craft makerspace at Bass Pro Shops’ Finley Farms in Ozark, opened Oct. 28. The staff held a ceremonial ribbon cutting with the Ozark and Springfield chambers of commerce Nov. 13.
Megan Stack, formerly Morris, and the staff of the Workshop welcomed some of Ozark’s business leaders to learn about what will one day be a farm that is also open to tourists.
“We’re looking at how generations have done things here in the Ozarks, and also looking to what are the newest, best practices that are sustainable so that we can be good stewards of the environment, being right here on the watershed,” Stack said.
Finley Farms includes the revitalization of the historic Ozark Mill and the conversion of what was once a Missouri Department of Transportation garage and a plant nursery into a working farm with multi-purpose communal meeting space.
The development plan calls for a restaurant, a speakeasy-style bar, agricultural farm development, river access and nature trails. Work continues nearby at the historic Ozark Mill, which is slated to be made into a restaurant. Stack said a chapel will also be built on the Finley Farms property in 2020.
What is now the Workshop was built in the 1930s as a Missouri Department of Transportation maintenance garage. The outdoor shed and the storage tanks that have become a favorite visual for farmers market visitors are also original relics from the property’s origins as a MoDOT facility.
“We wanted to highlight both of the past uses of this space, and really uncover the beauty that was already here,” Stack said.
On most mornings, the Workshop will look and feel a lot like a coffee shop, but with some twists. In the evenings, there will be seminars and classes. The first gathering at the Workshop was a pie making class, where guests learned to make crusts from scratch and baked their pies to completion.
Manager Sarah Stracke said the evening classes are, “really focusing on themes that bring us back to our original Ozark heritage, so farming, gardening, culinary, mixology, leather working, weaving. We hope to bring in more and more crafts as we expand our offerings, and we find that we are partnering with a lot of really creative, brilliant people from the Ozark and Springfield areas,” Stracke said.
As a functional farm is being developed on what used to be Fourth Street, the seminar offerings will evolve. Stack gave an example of a pickling class, where guests would go into the farm to pick cucumbers and okra, then returning to the Workshop and pickling it.
“The goal is for the farm to support the restaurant that will be in the mill, and then also for the classes that will be here in the Workshop to interact with the farm, so the guests can go out and pick their produce, then come in and make something with it,” Stack said.
Development of the farm is well underway, with plans for an orchard with some native trees.
“We’re looking at perennials right now and placing our orders for fruiting bushes and things like that. We’re getting ready to put the apple orchard in, and we’re looking at things like pawpaws and persimmons, trying to look at a lot of native varieties and things that will do well here without a lot of pesticides or any kind of chemicals, so we can be as close to organic as feasible,” Stack said.
Stack said future developments will include a cut flower farm with a florists working in the Workshop, plus staple vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes.
Ozark Chamber of Commerce director Anna Evans said it was important to welcome the new business into Ozark.
“We want to tell the gift shop staff—the whole team has worked so hard to get this project up and going—how excited we are to have them here, how we are excited to welcome them into the community, and how excited we are celebrate with them as they continue on into 2020 and expand the Finley Farms project,” Evans said.
The mill has been in Ozark since the town was settled in the 1830s. It became known as Hoover’s Mill. Bass Pro Shops developers are working to preserve as much of the history as they can as the building is revitalized.