The mighty Columbia River has brought life and prosperity to the Columbia Basin since the Wanapum, Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce and Colville Tribes first inhabited the region. It is the river that binds us all together, and it is the river that now provides a unique opportunity for the region to play an international role in combating global hunger. By the year 2050, the world population is anticipated to reach 9 billion people.
The Reach interpretive center will be telling that story as we build out the 10,000 square-foot lower floor. Working with partners in agriculture, specialty foods, education and business, the Reach has designed the Enterprise for Agriculture Education, or Eat@The Reach, a year-round indoor market to share our story of the “bounty of the Basin” through the lens of food. The key components will include: an open and easily reconfigured space for our education programs; an exhibit on food, water and our evolving climate; a commercial kitchen to provide hands-on learning about growing, eating, preserving, celebrating and sustaining food production; deli cases to purchase ready-to-eat foods from local producers; an L-shaped stage for performances and display of local specialty foods, wine and beer; and an indoor/outdoor restroom for visitors or attendees at productions in our outdoor theater.
During the spring and summer, look for fresh local foods; “Meet the Farmer” events; farm-to-table and winemaker dinners; and tastings and pairings with wines and beers. In the fall, celebrations will turn to harvest and preservation, and the return of “pumpkin chucking” and “screech at the Reach.”
Eat@The Reach expands our core exhibits: the Ice Age Floods; the Hanford Reach National Monument; Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project; and the Manhattan Project National Historic Park. Our Rotating Gallery features a new exhibit on the Columbia Generating Station and energy-nuclear, solar, wind and hydropower. The aquarium is a window to the fish that live and thrive in the Columbia River, and we’ve added a smaller tank, to raise salmon as part of the “Salmon in the Classroom” program.
In July, two new Manhattan Project story exhibits will open: Daughters of Hanford and Robley Johnson — The Man Behind the Camera. Outside next to the pivot, visitors will see “Victory Gardens” of WWII, when rationing was a fact of life and you ate what you grew. These gardens will be outdoor learning areas for new backyard farmers taught by FFA students from Kamiakin High School. Our new PreK Learning Area will teach toddlers about water, soil, plants, animals, investigation, counting, weighing and measuring, and other subjects. We’ll provide the rubber boots and plastic coats, so after digging for onions, carrots and potatoes, our little explorers can get a good hosing down.
On the river side of the Reach, we’ll install our WWII Airstream to introduce visitors to “real life” during the Manhattan Project. Near our sun sculpture and stage, a series of metal sculptures of the solar system will begin to be installed, and special lighting will bring the sun stage to life. Throughout the 18 acres, we’ll be improving the landscape to better reflect our shrub-steppe environment. The Reach pond will be filled for two-legged guests: egrets, pelicans, ducks, geese, swallows, hawks and finches; and even some of the four-legged kinds: marmots, deer and frogs.
Long term, we have a conceptual design for the expansion of our Manhattan Project Exhibit to include the Cold War, Cleanup and Public Access. This space also features a STEM lab and an exhibit on the Coyote Canyon Dig and MCBONES project.
The Reach is a gateway to our community’s stories and a center for celebrating community life. It is a treasure, mirroring who we are, where we’ve been and where we are going. Visit the Reach — our stories start here!