The first time that I paid a visit to 52 Leslie Street was to check out Groundwork Market Garden. At the time, I was in awe of the 60,000 square foot building, and couldn’t wait to see what else the future would bring for the structure, and for the surrounding farmland.
A little over a year later, and I have my answer. The building is the future home of River Road Research, an initiative that I wrote about back in September. You might recall that River Road Research was involved in converting food waste into sustainable and highly productive byproducts, using a patented technology process. The primary function of the operation used the proprietary technology to convert food waste into… insect feed! From there, the insect feed – a sustainable protein – is used to feed farm raised fish, that will help to alleviate the environmental stresses to our oceans (and lakes) caused by overfishing. The feed is also a beneficial source of protein for poultry.
Empire State Development (ESD) announced the arrival of this new pilot plant earlier today, which is primely located on the city’s East Side.
“River Road Research’s pilot plant on Buffalo’s East Side is a symbol of the innovation-based economy that is emerging in Western New York, and boosting job creation while creating a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future,” said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, in reference to the $1,311,000 project creating 7 full-time jobs (referred to as ‘green collar’), all of which are eligible for up to $56,000 through the Excelsior Tax Credit Program in exchange for promised job commitments. “This eco-friendly process will result in a reduction of food waste and pollution, and produce economically competitive protein from nonagricultural land.”
River Road Research also has significant capability to produce non-synthetic fertilizers and plant growth enhancer products to support carbon sequestration in crop farming.
A significant environmental benefit to River Road Research is its ability to turn food waste into insect food. Each year in the US alone, more than forty million tons of food waste is produced annually. The more ways that we can utilize this food waste, the more we can keep it out of landfills.
It turns out that food waste is the perfect food for black soldier fly larvae – the insect of choice that will be reared in the facility. Not only will this help to minimize greenhouse gasses emitted from landfills (caused by decaying food), it will also redirect the reclaimed key nutrients right back into the food stream.
“Our state has a rich history of being on the cutting edge of agricultural industry technology. River Road Research is yet another example of the many innovative and groundbreaking companies that have chosen to grow and nurture their business in Western New York,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “This company’s decision to establish its pilot plant in this region will spur the local economy while creating jobs and helping Western New York build back better.”
According to NOAA Fisheries reporting, the United States imports about $17B more seafood than it exports. River Road Research will focus on the production of domestic, sustainable, and affordable proteins that will lead to the expansion of the aquaculture industry in the US, and in New York State.
“There is currently a great need to find better solutions for the disposal of food waste. Additionally, the growing global population demands a sustainable source of protein for animal and aquaculture feeds,” said Scott Ernst, Managing Director of River Road Research. “Our process provides a solution to these societal level issues, and it does so in an economic yet still responsible way. The process reclaims and re-uses virtually all the key nutrients in the food waste while generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than alternatives such as landfilling, composting, and anaerobic digestion.”
“New, innovative companies—like River Road Research—are being drawn to Buffalo as a place to establish themselves and grow,” said New York Power Authority (NYPA) chairman and Buffalo resident John R. Koelmel, referencing a $220,000 award under the Western New York Power Proceeds program to River Road Research that will leverage more than $1 million in capital investments. “It’s exciting to witness the Western New York economy expand and NYPA is proud to be a contributing factor in bringing new enterprises and fresh ideas to the region.”
“As we build back after the COVID-19 pandemic, we must prioritize innovative ways to strengthen New York’s economy and invest in sustainable alternatives that align with New York’s environmental goals. River Road Research’s pilot plant in Buffalo will help to grow our city’s workforce, and further enhance our state’s commitment to creative, green strategies that will carry us forward,” said Senator Tim Kennedy.
“I’d like to congratulate and thank River Road Research for choosing the Bailey Green neighborhood for establishing their sustainable business and creating jobs,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “Reducing the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills and repurposing it as feed stock are just the type of alternative and sustainable solutions New York is seeking to combat climate change.”
Mayor Brian Brown said, “This creative effort to transform food waste into a product that can be used as animal and aquaculture feed, is a great fit for the City of Buffalo as we broaden our commitment to the environment as a Climate Refuge City which has adopted Climate Smart and Clean Energy policies. It also fits with our increasingly successful household recycling efforts, which have grown to include form waste recycling. I also applaud River Road Research’s selection of a long vacant site on Buffalo’s East Side as home of the pilot project, as well as the creation of new jobs and the potential for growth of a new industry.”
“Buffalo’s East Side continues its’ revitalization with River Road Research’s decision to build a plant on Leslie Street, an investment of over $1.3 million that creates seven new jobs and brings an old, unused building back to life. It’s a big win for the community and another example of why Erie County is a great place to locate and grow a business,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
River Road Research joins Groundwork Market Garden at 52 Leslie Street. The project is expected to be complete in December 2021.
More information about River Road Research can be found here.