Something sweeter is planned for the future of a former Cambria junkyard.
NF Lockport LLC, a subsidiary of Northern Farms in partnership with Netafim and Orbia, plans to build a greenhouse and warehouse at 5222 Junction Road, Cambria, remediating the brownfield site in the process.
Northern Farms spokesperson Evan Coleman and attorney Chris Canada of Hodgson Russ, speaking via phone at this week’s Niagara County Industrial Development Agency board meeting, stated that the crops grown there will be mainly for the New England market. Northern Farms said it has no intention of growing cannabis in the greenhouse due to company policy of not investing in it.
The 30-acre site, across the railroad tracks from Cambria Asphalt, would house a 25-acre greenhouse and a 100,000-square foot warehouse. Strawberries will be the main crop; other fruits and vegetables could be grown there as well.
Coleman explained that strawberries in New England supermarkets prior to COVID-19 were brought in from California, Florida and Mexico. There were already logistical challenges in moving the crop that distance due to its brief shelf life.
“We looked at starting to do this about five years ago,” Coleman said, adding that he knew a group of people from Fidelity Investments who built backyard farms that became 42 acres of greenhouses in Maine. “It was a successful project employing over 250 people and contributes quite a bit to the local tax base.”
That led Northern Farms to get involved with Netafim, an Israel irrigation equipment manufacturer looking to be a larger player in greenhouse spaces.
The soil at the former scrapyard is contaminated with heavy metals, lead and oil. It has been vacant for more than 20 years and the former owners owe Niagara County more than $600,000 in taxes. The country transferred the tax lien to the Niagara