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Fertile ground for berries? Florida firm picks Lincoln County

A Florida company will spend about $2 million to make Lincoln County a farming and distribution center for a patented form of blackberries.

It’s all a part of SunnyRidge Farm Inc.’s plan to bring golf-ball sized fruit from the Charlotte area to market at a time of the year when it’s not currently available.

SunnyRidge is close to a deal to buy 5 acres near NC Highway 16 & 27 where a 4,200 square foot distribution center would need to be ready by June, when the first locally grown blackberries are harvested.

From the $400,000 center, blackberries will be shipped to Canada and Europe as well as throughout the US.

SunnyRidge expects to ship more than $11 million in blackberries from the site by 2011.

SunnyRidge plans to buy land for a 60 to 100 acre blackberry farm in the Vale area of western Lincoln County. That land should be in production by 2009.

SunnyRidge, based in Winter Haven, Fla., had $12.4 million in sales in 2006