‘East End Food Hub’ under construction at the Riverhead Farmers Market site

Plans are underway to transform the current East End Food Market into a year-round ‘East End Food Hub’ on the site of the former Homeside Florist in Riverhead.

The popular Winter Market will open at this location in November 2021 and remains open on Friday evenings throughout spring and summer. Earlier this year, the nonprofit began raising funding to help build a community kitchen on its property, and is currently preparing to unveil its design plans for the four-acre site.

The Farmer’s Market is held in Riverhead, but the Food Institute’s current kitchen and headquarters are in Southampton’s Stony Brook campus.

“We’re blowing up at the seams in Southampton,” said Kate Fullam, which was a great place to start, but the infrastructure is aging and the space is too small to scale up the plan. The new facility will help expand services, she said.

The Institute is currently working with a team of architects, engineers and transportation consultants to finalize designs for a new campus in Riverhead, which may be completed in phases. Phase 1 involves converting his existing 5,000-square-foot building into a community his kitchen. This is similar to the Southampton facility where the lab’s team helps farms and small food entrepreneurs process their products. The existing building also envisions a small semi-permanent market with food stalls, with windows overlooking the kitchen space. “Rather than separating production from retail, we can get a complete picture of the super-local ingredients that are coming for small producers,” he explained Fullam.

The second phase of the project involves construction of a new 7,500-square-foot mixed-use building. The building hosts a typical farmer’s market, with spaces set up by vendors, but can also be used for cooking demonstrations and events. That building is also used for a bulk processing kitchen that can process large quantities of produce from local farms.

“Obviously we have a major agricultural industry here in the East End, but often only high-end consumers can afford it,” Fulham said. The Institute’s main goal is to help create new revenue streams for local farmers and producers, while increasing access to locally grown products beyond farms and markets. “It’s good that farms can sell more produce at wholesale prices, but it’s also great that people in the community have access to local foods that they may not be able to afford to visit farm stalls,” she said. rice field.

One way to achieve this is by partnering with key community institutions such as local hospitals, pantries, senior centers and schools to include local products on their menus. The institute already helps bring local products to school districts in Riverhead, Westhampton, Southampton, Bridgegampton and Tuckahoe, and is looking to expand further, Fulham said. .

The final portion of the plan calls for housing at the rear of the property adjacent to existing residential neighborhoods permitted under the Riverhead Town Commercial/Residential Campus Zoning District. Fram said the housing will help accommodate the seasonal needs of those directly involved in operations and can also accommodate townspeople for training and conferences hosted by the institute.

The Food Research Institute is currently leasing the property from owners Paul Palowski and Kenneth Barratt, who purchased it in 2020.

A rendering of the proposed alteration of the exterior of the building. (Credit: Rendering provided by East End Food Institute)

Homeside Florist & Greenhouses closed in 2018 after 64 years in business. Founded by Ernest Olsen in the 1950s and run by his children Andrea and Chris after his death in 2018. This property he listed for his $3.5 million in February 2019.

In an interview on Friday, Pawlowski described Fram as a great partner on a project with a “brilliant” vision.

“First and foremost, it works well with what was there. [The Olsens] A hard working family, it’s been there forever and it’s been great to move to agricultural use again,” he said.

Pawlowski said the goal is to achieve a new site plan for the property that improves layout, flow and traffic. “Eventually, the entire site will be well-placed with new buildings,” he said. “If we can improve traffic flow, we will.”

The organization is working with transportation consultants to conduct research and ideally would like to have a right turn only exit directly on Route 105 to ease congestion in the area.

“It serves both forks, which is a really good use,” Pawlowski says.

The plans for the Food Hub project will be announced at a fundraising cocktail party at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton on Thursday, September 15th. Peconic’s Treiber Farms.

Additionally, Frum will be able to visit the Farmers Market on Friday, September 16th and Friday, September 30th to share plans with the community, get feedback and answer questions. “We’ve been working very hard behind the scenes, and we’re getting feedback from food producers, farmers, and the community to finalize the design and move forward with the plan, so we know we’re headed in the right direction. We look forward to confirming our building permit,” she said, adding that she hopes to submit the application to the town before the end of the year.

Executive Director of the Institute since 2018, Frum is passionate about food, community health and the environment. “We are impacting the environment, the economy and equitable access to food, which in turn leads to healthier communities. Enabling agriculture to survive and people to stay healthy and resilient. “It’s an essential factor for us,” she said, showing that food systems can collapse, especially in the face of a pandemic. Behind the scenes, we’re trying to localize and strengthen resilience in the event of a crisis,” Fram said.

The East End Food Market is located at 139 Main Road in Riverhead. Currently open Fridays from 3pm to 7pm through the end of October. The Winter Market will reopen on Saturday, November 26th. For more information on the Market and Food Hub plans, visit eastendfood.org.

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