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Brasher, county IDA hope to help grow cranberry business

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BRASHER FALLS - The town of Brasher and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency hope to help a local businessman expand his cranberry business.

Peter and Patti Paquin operate a cranberry farm on County Route 37, and they recently met with Brasher Supervisor M. James Dawson, Deputy Supervisor William D. Demo, and Thomas A. Plastino and Brian Norton from the county IDA. “The issue was how can we help you expand your business in the town of Brasher,” Mr. Dawson said.

Mr. Paquin and his family built the entire operation from scratch, digging irrigation canals, laying sand for the cranberry beds, constructing machines to pump, sort and process the fruit and refurbishing an old barn to suit their needs.

In 2007, their harvest produced more than 450,000 pounds of cranberries - enough berries to make 675,000 cans or 84,375 gallons of fresh cranberry sauce.

“Peter is very knowledgeable,” Mr. Dawson said.

Unfortunately, he said, worm problems cut this year’s harvest down to about half the crop Mr. Paquin would have normally had.

“At Thanksgiving he finally harvested all of his cranberries and only had half,” he said.

Not every aspect of the operation is local, though, and Mr. Dawson said they might be able to help Mr. Paquin with that aspect of his business.

For instance, he said, the Paquin’s crop is delivered by truck to freezing facilities, including one in Syracuse. There, the fruit is frozen, packaged and sold.

“We asked him, ‘Peter, would you use a facility if it were here?’ He said absolutely,” Mr. Dawson said.

The Paquins may be able to take advantage of 210 megawatts of power that’s available through the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency, according to the town supervisor.

“Some of that could be used. This is economic development,” he said.

Mr. Dawson said Mr. Paquin is also interested in starting a fresh berry business that doesn’t involve washing or freezing the berries.

“He said there’s a market for that. We’re looking at that,” he said. “He can make about seven times more profit on fresh berries than frozen.”

Both the town and the county have revolving loan funds that may also be able to assist Mr. Paquin, Mr. Dawson said.

“We told him we had a revolving loan fund if he needed any money. They (the IDA) have a revolving loan fund, too,” he said.

He suggested that Mr. Plastino and Mr. Norton appeared excited over what they saw at the Paquin farm.

“These guys seemed pretty enthusiastic,” Mr. Dawson said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

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