MILO, Maine — If a developer has his way, fresh organic vegetables, flowers and shrubs sold wholesale in central and northern New England would be grown in Milo.
Brian Grosse of the Boston area, who purchased the vacant Ox Yoke buildings in 2006, wants to use a small portion of the main mill building for an office and build greenhouses behind the building using the six 30-by-200-foot foundations left behind by the earlier American Thread Co. operation.
“They’re the perfect size for greenhouse foundations and that has helped make the project economically feasible,” Grosse said Friday. Another building on the property connected to the mill would be used as a warehouse.
To help with the $600,000 project, which would provide six jobs, the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council has requested a $180,000 Community Development Block grant. If awarded and Milo residents approve the grant’s acceptance in September, Grosse will kick in the remaining funds to help the local economy.
“I think the greenhouse business will be a tremendous success,” Grosse said. “The best way to predict the future is to create it, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Site improvements would begin in late spring, the greenhouses would be constructed in late summer and production would start in the fall, according to Grosse. The operation would include growing cycles for organic vegetables, bedding plants, perennials, shrubs and native species of trees, all of which would be sold wholesale. The market niche is locally grown organic, early season, quality produce, he said.
Grosse, who fell in love with the area and the small-town atmosphere while on visits to a friend in Lakeview and who later purchased a home there, hopes the business will expand based on its success, which will create more jobs.
The two biggest expenses for a greenhouse are labor and energy, and the Milo area has the labor force and wood products that are related to forestry, Grosse said. He plans to install a biomass heating system and heat the greenhouses with wood byproducts.
Grosse said he also has other plans for the Ox Yoke building that he will disclose in a few months. Gross is co-owner of Reflex Lighting Group in Boston, which will have no connection with the Milo business.