East End farmers, fishermen, preservationists and sustainable energy supporters received good news last week when a handful of projects across the East End — particularly on the North Fork — were awarded more than $1 million in grant funding from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council.
Coming on the heels of meeting in Riverhead, the largest two projects on the East End to receive funding are an agricultural processing center at Enterprise Park at Calverton and just less than $400,000 for land preservation in the Pipes Cove area.
Joe Gergela, the executive director with the Long Island Farm Bureau, said the LIFB will serve as lead agent for the $500,000 agriculture project, which he said will "serve as a central location for growers to grade and package sometimes hydrocool products, mostly produce. It can also serve as a shipping point and storage facility."
Currently, Gergela said, most ag operations on the East End load and package their products in the field and load them onto a truck for distribution. This facility, he said, will allow farmers to "wash and package into more desirable forms for grocery stores and customers, giving it a longer shelf life wherever it goes."
The Pipes Cove project awarded Southold Town $389,000 for land preservation as the town continues to purchase land in the area just west of Greenport, part of a . According to the town's Land Preservation Department, government entities at various levels — town, county and state — have preserved nearly 500 acres in the Pipes Cove Watershed.
More detailed information about a $183,000 grant to restore the Peconic Bay scallop fisheries through Cornell Cooperative Extension was not readily available.
In addition to those projects, two green energy companies — Mattituck's Eastern Energy Systems and Southampton's Green Long Island — received $11,700 and $48,500, respectively, to train employees in sustainable energy jobs. Green Long Island's program will train 50 unemployed workers in the area.
In total, the Long Island Regional Development Council received $101.6 million in grant funding for 66 projects, of more than $650 million awarded by the State Regional Economic Council.