Donaroma’s — the Edgartown landscape maintenance company, wholesaler and nursery — is setting roots in Oak Bluffs for the first time, with plans to open up a retail and wholesale operation on a large plot of cleared farmland off the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road.

Michael Donaroma, who owns the landscape business and serves as an Edgartown select board member, confirmed in a phone call that he is leasing the approximately six-acre property addressed at 218 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road from farmer Jamie Norton. Mr. Norton owns the Bayes Norton Farm, which operates across the street.

A highly-visible property situated just northwest of the roundabout, the 12-acre parcel in Oak Bluffs was previously blanketed in scrub oak before Mr. Norton cleared approximately half of it three years ago, saying he planned to use it for agricultural purposes. But nothing immediately came of the clearing, and the land sat quiet for much of the past two years.

Activity started up on the property throughout the late summer and fall this year, as heavy machinery moved wood chips and flattened earth.

Mr. Donaroma said that he intended to use the property for both retail and wholesale plant and soil sales. He said the property would have greenhouses, as well as outdoor plants, with a small retail space, although he has not finalized plans.

“I’m trying to expand my growing operation but at the same time, consolidate it,” Mr. Donaroma said. “Our goal, at least what we’re thinking about with this new piece, is to centralize.”

Donaroma’s landscaping business currently has four growing locations and 24 greenhouses, mainly in Edgartown. While a small number of plants are grown at his nursery and retail store on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road near the Triangle, he said most of that location does seed propagation. Three other locations, including Waller Farm in Katama, serve as farms for the nursery and flower business, Mr. Donaroma said.

The business also operates Eden Gardens in Vineyard Haven, as well as Juniper and Co. in downtown Edgartown.

“We’ll continue to propagate and grow our own perennials, ground cover and veggie shrubs, with a big focus on the native grasses and native shrubs,” Mr. Donaroma said.

Mr. Donaroma said the Oak Bluffs property would provide an additional location to grow and sell plants. He won’t be closing any of the Edgartown operations.

“That’s because the growing operations I have in Edgartown might feed the new location. This is for things that are ready, or almost ready,” he said. “In the nursery business, you are moving plants, from a 30-degree house, to a 50-degree house, to outside. You're always moving stuff. It all depends on where I have room.”

Mr. Donaroma estimated that the operation could be finished by the fall of 2023 or the spring of 2024, saying that he still needed to connect the property to electricity and water.

“Right now, we are still in the building stage,” Mr. Donaroma said. “But once we get going, we hope to sell, retail and wholesale, all kinds of nursery stock.”

The property is located in an R3 residential zoning district. Although the zoning restricts commercial uses, Mr. Donaroma said that he can operate a retail establishment at the site because of an agricultural exemption to the zoning bylaw.

“You can grow and sell your plants anywhere you want. This will be 100 per cent greenhouses and plants, and incidental, too. I might have soil or peat moss,” Mr. Donaroma said.

The landscaping business has boomed on-Island in recent years, and particularly during the pandemic, as Islanders, quarantined at home, became more readily focused on the upkeep of their lawns and outdoor spaces.

Mr. Donaroma said that the new location would help keep plant growing and wholesale landscape products local.

“There’s 1,000 new landscapers on the Island,” Mr. Donaroma said. “So why go off-Island, when we can grow a lot right here?”