At age 70, Gary Hunt isn’t ready for retirement. He has big plans for the future and those plans include Sunbright.
Through his company, Just Be Green, Hunt believes he can use aquaponics to develop nearly 5,000 acres in the Sunbright area into a green community, which would include among other things a fish farm, greenhouses for the production of produce, an academy to teach and provide high school students with future jobs, along with assisted living and independent living services for veterans.
Hunt says he’s been working on his vision for 30 years and making money isn’t his main concern. “We all take different paths in life,” he said. “I’m 70 and I’m focused on having a purpose with what time I have left. I don’t care about money, politics or any of that. I want to know how many people can we touch in a good way.”
If successful, Hunt’s Just Be Green concept would be a major source of jobs for Morgan County.
“This is a great opportunity to create positive change,” he said. “We’re looking at 1,500 to 2,000 jobs with this footprint.”
Aquaponics is the key to Hunt’s project. Aquaponics would combine raising Barramundi fish to sell and then using the excretions from the fish as fertilizer to grow plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
“This is the economic driver,” Hunt said. “There will be 320,000 square feet of greenhouses and I think we’re looking at about 60,000,000 pounds of produce annually. We will also produce 4 millions pounds of Barramundi fish annually.” He also says the demand is great for what Just Be Green can produce.
“For every pound of fish we produce, we’ll produce 18 to 20 pounds of produce,” he said. “The plants are setting in water, not dirt, and we’ll operate year round. There is a 4.2 billion pound demand for agriculture within a 12-hour drive from here, and a 2 billion pound demand for fish within 12 hours from here.
“We cannot even touch the demand. Our product is basically sold before we grow it. “That’s why we have aquaponics as the economic driver and will build everything around it.” Just Be Green is in its early stages of development and says it will be a lengthy process. Hunt also knows some in the area are skeptical of his vision, but says just be patient. “This is a seven-year project,” he said. “It takes a lot of planning. It’s a step-by-step process.
“This is not like setting up a mom-and-pop shop. I’ve only been here two or three months. This is a regional platform and will change the economic face of the Plateau.” Hunt also says his goal isn’t to change the natural beauty of the area.
“I don’t want Plasticville, USA here,” he said. “This is an agriculture-based community and it will stay that way.”
Article By Goose Lindsay
Morgan County News