09/18/15 2:00pm
09/18/2015 2:00 PM

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Construction of the greenhouse at Mattituck High School has come to a halt because the greenhouse doesn’t meet state building code, school board member Douglas Cooper said at Tuesday’s board of education meeting.

“We have a small greenhouse, 35 by 45 [feet],” he said. “You’re allowed up to 350 square feet without a state building permit and this would be three times that size, or four times that size.”

Jamesport farmer Carl Gabrielsen donated the greenhouse as part of the district’s sustainable agriculture initiative and began construction on it this summer.

Mr. Cooper didn’t specify which state regulations the greenhouse didn’t meet.

“The state regulations are ridiculous,” Mr. Cooper said. “What we have is small, quite small. It’s going to be beautiful for our school district, and we’re not allowed to do it. So that’s going to be on hold for the time being.”

Although the plans for the greenhouse have stalled, the high school environmental class created to function in conjunction with the greenhouse will continue this year.

“We’ll get through the greenhouse part … the curriculum is looking really, really good,” said board member Barbara Wheaton.

The high school class focuses on gardening, sustainable practices and environment and organic farming at local farms.

Ms. Wheaton said the district’s agricultural program is working with staff at the elementary school in an effort to coordinate between the elementary school garden and the high school.

“I just felt that the curriculum is alive here,” she said.

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Photo Caption: The greenhouse at Mattituck High School that doesn’t currently meet state building codes (Credit: Jen Nuzzo file). 

03/31/13 8:00am
03/31/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Carl Gabrielsen (left) with GreenLogic energy consultant Dan Malone in Gabrielsen Farms’ West Lane, Aquebogue, greenhouse.

Carl Gabrielsen is hoping to make his greenhouse on West Lane in Aquebogue even greener.

Mr. Gabrielsen owns Gabrielsen Farms, which grows flowers and plants in greenhouses on Herricks Lane in Jamesport and West Lane in Aquebogue, and is building a solar panel system at the Aquebogue site that he says will eventually end up eliminating his electric bill.

Working with Dan Malone, an energy consultant from GreenLogic Energy in Southampton, Mr. Gabrielsen is installing about 400 solar voltaic panels behind the West Lane greenhouse to generate about 60 kilowatts of power.

“It’s basically a $200,000 project, but there’s a 30 percent federal tax credit that’s available and LIPA has a solar energy rebate of $1.30 per watt used,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. He estimates he will lay out about $37,000 initially but believes the project will have paid for itself in five years through the energy savings.

“My feeling is that anything in the greenhouse that can pay itself off in five years, you have to do it,” said Mr. Gabrielsen, brother of Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen. “But there’s two sides to the equation. There’s the economical reason, which is why I’m doing it, and there’s also the environmental reason. The lifetime carbon dioxide reduction from this is 2.7 million pounds over 30 years.”

GREENLOGIC COURTESY PHOTO | A ground-mounted solar array similar to the one that will be installed on Gabrielsen Farms’ Aquebogue greenhouse.

“That’s the equivalent of planting 17 acres of trees,” Mr. Malone said.

The solar panels will generate more electricity than needed at some times of the year and less during others. Any surplus energy goes back into the grid, and Mr. Gabrielsen gets a rebate for that amount.

The LIPA program doesn’t allow people to generate power for the sole purpose of selling it to LIPA, Mr. Malone said.

“We can only design our systems up to 105 percent,” he said.

Mr. Gabrielsen expects that over the course of a year his electric costs should fall to zero.

“It averages out over 12 months,” he said. “It’s a great benefit for agriculture out here.”

The solar panels are currently being installed and Mr. Gabrielsen, a member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, intends to give his fellow commissioners a tour of the West Lane operation in early April, by which time the solar panels will be further along. He expects the system to be operating by June.

“It’s not just the solar energy,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. He’s also recycling the water he uses at the greenhouse, and he has been using what’s called integrated pest management for the past five years.

That’s when you introduce “beneficial insects” that will kill off insects that are harmful to the plants.

“We’ve cut our pesticide use by 95 percent,” he said.

Mr. Gabrielsen, whose family has been involved in farming on Long Island for more than 200 years, said he had wanted to install solar panels at his Jamesport greenhouse as well but doesn’t have enough land left at that site.

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02/28/13 1:00pm
02/28/2013 1:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO  |  The greenhouse at Trimble's of Corchaug Nursery was one of a handful to fall on the North Fork during the blizzard.

COURTESY PHOTO | The greenhouse at Trimble’s of Corchaug Nursery was one of a handful to fall on the North Fork during the blizzard.

As the flakes flew during the February 8 blizzard, many North Forkers stared out their windows to watch more than a foot of snow fill their driveways.

Anne Trimble and Nancy Leskody had a different perspective from the second floor of their home next to the nursery they own on Main Road in Cutchogue. All they could see was a blanket of snow growing thicker atop their 40-year-old greenhouse.

“It just kept snowing and snowing and snowing,” Ms. Leskody said. “It got very heavy. Then it buckled and came crashing down.”

COURTESY PHOTO | Trimble’s owners Anne Trimble (left) and Nancy Leskody with employee Gerry Leskody inside the collapsed greenhouse.

The greenhouse at Trimble’s of Corchaug Nursery was one of a handful to fall on the North Fork during the blizzard — and among more than 250 in the Northeast to collapse, according to reports.

The weight of the snow was just too much for the older, gutter-connected aluminum-framed greenhouse to handle.

“Because of the way it collapsed, it was still partially standing,” Ms. Trimble said.

While no plants were damaged, Trimble’s did lose benches, pots and shelving. The storm also destroyed their PA system.

Ms. Leskody said the toughest part of the ordeal was losing a space that she viewed as both an office and a sanctuary.

“That was my work space,” she said. “I was definitely emotionally connected to it. It was bittersweet.”

Bitter because the structure was the only one remaining from when Ms. Trimble and Ms. Leskody bought the business in 1991. Sweet because it will be replaced with a new, more energy-efficient greenhouse.

That structure will be 3,000 square feet, less than half the size of the original, but will feature a stronger steel frame with a clear front panel enabling passersby to see the inventory from the roadway.

The new greenhouse will serve more as a retail showroom than as a growing space. Most of the stock will continue to be grown in smaller “cold houses” at the nursery.

Ms. Trimble said she expects the entire process of taking down the old greenhouse and building the new one to take between six and eight weeks. It’s expected to be ready soon after Trimble’s reopens for the season March 25.

That’s good news for customers who feared the nursery might close when they saw the old structure collapse.

“When people are calling, saying, ‘Please stay in business,’ that really affects you,” Ms. Leskody said. “We don’t plan on closing for a long time.”

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