Oracle founder and billionaire Larry Ellison has his sights high with his latest project, according to a recent interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He wants to turn Lanai, the Hawaiian island he owns the bulk of, into a $15 million greenhouse agricultural complex, which will use renewable energy to grow all manner of produce in higher quality and lower prices than ever before. The ambitious project, Ellison says, could "transform agriculture" as we know it.
It's called Lanai Farms, and Ellison wants to start by growing tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, and different varieties of herbs using a process of automated hydroponic cultivation. The produce would be cultivated on a complex made up of 10 20,000-square-foot greenhouses, ideally funded in part by a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, which Ellison said he'd recently applied for. A sprawling island complex with cutting edge technology spearheaded by a billionaire who wants to change the world might give you visions of Thunderball or some other James Bond adventure, but hopefully the end result in this particular case will be cheaper organic tomatoes, not a SPECTRE world takeover.
Ellison is reportedly working with the University of Hawaii on the Lanai Farms project, but it's not the only health-centered project in the works on the island, which used to be a pineapple plantation in the past. His closed Lodge at Koele resort is undergoing a renovation priced at $75 million, and Ellison says the new Lodge will serve as a "wellness retreat," offering guests nutrition consultations and meditation guidance (as well as very low priced organic produce eventually, one presumes).
Larry Ellison owns a 98 percent chunk of the island of Lanai, the rest owned by the state of Hawaii, since he purchased the land in 2012 from Dole Food Co. billionaire David Murdock for roughly $300 million.