Lieutenant governor to visit planned North Fork produce plant

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | J. Kings owner John King at a recent ‘open house’ at the planned Grapes & Greens facility on Sound Avenue in Calverton.

“Grapes & Greens,” the agricultural processing and storage facility being built in a former plumbing warehouse in Calverton will host state Lt. Governor Robert Duffy at a “ribbon cutting” ceremony Friday morning.

The project, which will process local agricultural products and store local wines after bottling in a way that would expand the market for those goods, got the go-ahead from the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals on June 14.

But that decision came after a neighboring property owner on Sound Avenue in Calverton who was concerned about the potential for notice and truck traffic resulting from the facility challenged the town’s issuance of a building permit for the site.

J. Kings Food Service Professionals, which is running the operation out of the former Blackman Plumbing warehouse, has since purchased the building but it is not yet operating, said Diane Fennekohl, an executive assistant at J. Kings.

Friday’s event is a ceremonial event.

“We’re in the process of primping the building to be ready for what we want to do with it,” she said. “We’re still drafting permits and things like that.”

She said all of the equipment needed for the facility has been ordered and is waiting to be installed.

Company owner John King said the company does agricultural sorting and processing at a facility in Bay Shore but wants to move that function to the Calverton site to be closer to the North Fork farms.

The facility is expected to allow local farmers to get better value for their crops by extending the life of their product, according to Mr. King, who said the facility will allow produce to properly frozen to prolong its freshness.

The site will have a $900,000 hydro cooler, which local farmers say they could not afford to purchase on their own.

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