As traffic concerns continue to escalate on the North Fork, Lavender by the Bay is hoping a second location in Calverton can help mitigate the crowds that travel east to visit their popular farm in East Marion.
There, 17 acres of lavender fields draw hundreds, if not thousands, to witness the purple blooms that crop up in mid-June and last through the fall. In recent years, local business owners as well as Orient and East Marion residents have complained that Lavender by the Bay is the source of road congestion in the tiny hamlet each summer weekend.
The farm owners said the community outcry has not fallen on deaf ears and are in contract to purchase a 30-acre agricultural parcel closer to the Long Island Expressway in an effort to reduce traffic to the East Marion location.
“We have a need and desire to plant more lavender and we have been looking for another piece of property for a couple of years now,” said Lavender by the Bay vice president Chanan Rozenbaum. “I think that the people who are coming to the North Fork will still want to come to our East Marion property, but people looking to just come to our farm could save themselves a half-hour to 45 minutes by coming to Calverton.”
Lavender by the Bay was established on Main Road in East Marion in 2002 and has been increasingly popular with visitors — particularly Asian-Americans — since a Hong Kong romance called “Lavender” was released in 2001, helping to explain why the fragrant flower has become all the rage.
The owners of the family-run farm first became interested in the Calverton property, opposite Splish Splash on Route 25 and Manor Road, last fall and have already started planting on 15 acres there, Mr. Rozenbaum said. The blooms are expected to take at least two seasons to mature and there are no current plans for a farm stand at the property, he added.
The East Marion farm grows more than 15 varieties of lavender and the Calverton location will likely do the same.
“The goal is to get everything planted so that we can hopefully have some resemblance of a bloom in the next two years,” Mr. Rozenbaum said. “Our priority right now is to plant and then, of course, we will go through all the proper channels if we want to build a store.”
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said the second location is a positive step in addressing the North Fork’s increasingly frustrating traffic problems, adding that the lavender fields in Calverton “can’t grow fast enough.”
“This is potentially great news,” Mr. Russell said. “If the new location attracts many of the visitors that currently travel to East Marion, it has the potential to reduce the traffic there to a manageable level.”
Concern about traffic at East Marion farm peaked in the summer of 2016, when Anne Murray, president of the East Marion Community Association, called the situation “life-and-death” during a Southold Town Board meeting. By last summer, the farm’s owner had removed an acre of plants to add 100 parking spots. Southold Town also added a traffic patrol in the area during the busy season.
“Last year was better but a lot of people still couldn’t get in and out of their houses,” said Ms. Murray. “It is a volume problem. I think [the Calverton location] is a win-win for everybody. There are more roads and parking in Calverton. Here, we are just trapped.”
Mr. Rozenbaum said he has not yet spoken to Riverhead Town officials about the property, but is optimistic the lavender farm will be well received.
A representative from Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith’s office said Tuesday that the supervisor is pleased that the property will remain agricultural in nature. Ms. Jens-Smith could not be reached for further comment before deadline.
Photo caption: Lavender By the Bay in East Marion. (File photo)