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Guildhall entrepreneur looking at Hodgdon property for fish farm

October 27, 2011
GUILDHALL — Entrepreneurial investor James "Jim" Homer has made a number of changes to his plan to develop a closed-system organic vegetable-and-fish-farm since he first came before the selectmen in July. Then as a vice president of Greener Living LLC of New Preston, Conn., he said he was looking to buy a 179-acre tract on the west side of Route 102, located between the Klinefelter and McGrath properties.

Since then Homer registered the start-up business with the Vermont Secretary of State on Aug. 31 as Kingdom Aquaponics, LLC, with a Guildhall address of 124 Pendrigh Road. Conn.-based Greener Living no longer has a role in his plans, Homer explained in a Friday morning telephone interview.

He is trying to purchase approximately 70 acres of an 80-acre parcel owned by the Hodgdon family on which Kingdom Aquaponics could raise organic vegetables in greenhouses and tropical fish in covered ponds. Design and engineering work is going forward, Homer said, noting that coming up with specific plans is the culmination of three years of research.

Homer has raised $2 million for this phase of Kingdom Aquaponics plans, he said. Now he is engaged in getting needed state permits.

The project would include a 2-plus-megawatt woodchip-burning power plant that could take advantage of the state's Sustainably Priced Energy Development (SPEED) program, enacted in June 2005 by the Vermont Legislature and Governor, Homer said. The law's goal is to promote the development of in-state energy sources that use renewable fuels (SPEED resources). In May 2009, the law was amended to create "standard offer" contracts and "feed-in tariffs" for SPEED resources of less than 2.2 MW.

"This is a 'win-win' project that is designed to produce fresh organic foods and electricity and to create jobs to meet today's needs," Homer explained. "I'm very excited about it; it's a good fit for Guildhall. There would be no pollutants and no invasive plants — it's planned to be a very clean 'green' operation."

Homer said he would soon be going back before the selectmen and, assuming that he concludes a deal with the Hodgdon family, would post a site plan and blueprints of the proposed facility at town hall, likely early in November. If all goes as planned, ground would be broken in the spring.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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