Calverton ag research center on schedule to open next summer

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10/24/2011 3:00 PM |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle, tossed dirt with Stony Brook University president Sam Stanley at Monday's ground breaking ceremony in Calverton.

Work on the new Agriculture Consumer Science Center in Calverton is on schedule and expected to be completed next summer, elected leaders and Stony Brook University officials announced at a press event Monday.

The new wine and agricultural testing facility, which will be housed in an 8,500-square-foot addition to Stony Brook’s Calverton Business Incubator on Route 25, is designed to help East End growers research and develop new consumer food products. It will include a microbiology laboratory and conference rooms, as well as training and demonstration areas.

The plan was unveiled last year, and although a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday, construction actually began last month.

University president Samuel Stanley described the plan as a “fantastic project,” because he believes it will help give an economic boost to the local farming community.

“Regional wine and agricultural producers will have state-of-the art processing areas,” he said. “They will be able to collaborate with scientists and researchersto develop their products.”

The new center will expand on the university’s Calverton Business Incubator, which was built in 2005 to further the development of aquaculture, agriculture and environmental technologies.

State Senator Ken LaValle, who secured a $3.5 million grant for the project, said the new center is “critically important” for the local economy.

“This was done because the farm community said this would be critically helpful,” said Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), adding the center will give Long Island’s agricultural community the tools it needs to develop new consumer items.

Entrepreneurs will be able to rent space there, paying $25 an hour for access to fully equipped commercial kitchens where they’ll be able to research and develop soups, sauces, baked goods and other products.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the town was pleased to donate 50 acres of land for the center and described the project as “an example of what works.”

“As [Mr. LaValle] sowed the seeds, unfortunately, the Town of Riverhead hasn’t been watering them very much,” Mr. Walter said. “It started with these seeds and, I’m telling you, we’re going to water them.”

jennifer@timesreview.com