Lisa and I were able to attend the “Puerto Rico is Open For Green Business” Summit at the San Juan Convention Center today, so it was exciting to hear all the opportunities Puerto Rico has to turn around the devastation from Hurricane Maria to an opportunity to set a new course for the Island.
Here are some pictures of our time at the event:
This is me with HON. RICARDO ROSSELLÓ NEVARES the Governor of Puerto Rico:
This is me with ON. TANIA VÁZQUEZ RIVERA the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources
This is me with RODRICK MILLER the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Puerto Rico.
This is Lisa with Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares.
Puerto Rico’s farmers and
communities desperately need the Farm
Aid Festival; they deserve the #FarmAid
Puerto Rico has barely
recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria and is forced to import 85%
of its fresh food, which simply isn’t fresh or nutritious by the time it
arrives. Puerto Rico needs awareness, investment, and aid; it needs Farm Aid to come to the island and you
can help simply by picking up the phone, dialing 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243) and asking founders Willie
Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp to bring their Festival to Puerto Rico.
You can also reach them at 617-354-2922
from 9am to 5pm EST, fill out the Online
Request for Assistance Form,
and/or send an email to email@example.com to make the same request.
Fusion Farms is standing with Puerto Rican Family Farmers and working to bring the Farm Aid Festival 2019 to Puerto Rico. Join us in reaching out to the Farm Aid Organization and let’s let them know how much of an IMPACT they could bring to Puerto Rican Family Farmers. Puerto Rico deserves to be supported by Farm Aid and after 30 years of Festivals all over the country, it’s time that Puerto Rico was given the boost it so deserves!!!
Please call 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243) to speak with a Farm Aid staff member and ask them to schedule the next Farm Aid Festival in Puerto Rico.
You can reach Farm Aid at 617-354-2922 from 9 am to 5 pm eastern.
When hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma devastated the Gulf Coast states in 2015, Farm Aid mobilized to respond to the emergency needs of family farmers. Within days of Katrina’s impact, Farm Aid sent emergency grants and truckloads of donated food to farm families in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi and sponsored five trainings to enable farmers to access federal disaster programs. When hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, we did not get a Farm Aid Festival, but now it’s time!
To be put on the list for ticket reservations, please send email to CEO@FusionFarmsPR.com and you’ll be the first to get notified of tickets if, as and when they become available.
“San Diego to Puerto Rico? Why? Are you nuts? Are you going to give up your citizenship? What about medical insurance, international calls, social security and crime? Do they have power yet? Does anyone there speak English? Can you drink the water?”
Yep, we got them all.
Yet, here we are dispelling myths daily and embracing the
We chose Puerto Rico. We were not forced to move here, running from the law or evading (but definitely avoiding) taxes. We are still US citizens and our friends and family from the States don’t need a passport to come visit us.
There are 2 reasons we moved here: personal and
Let’s start with personal.
When we decided to relocate to Puerto Rico from San Diego
to start Fusion Farms, our announcement was met with quite a few raised eyebrows.
After all, San Diego is one of the greatest cities on earth, right?
Don’t get me wrong! We loved San Diego and enjoyed most
of what it had to offer until the island of Puerto Rico pulled at our
heartstrings compelling us to take the leap.
I believe pictures speak a thousand words so below is the view we wake up to every morning. And let me mention that beachfront real estate is a fraction of the price it would cost in San Diego.
Most of what we need is within 3 miles. There
is no stoplight in our town and yet Home Depot and Walmart are only 30 minutes
away. We have plenty of good restaurants
and snorkeling is perfect without a wetsuit. We did not choose to live in a
gated community in Dorado or San Juan. We chose the west side of the island where
sunsets and surfing are the norm.
Yesterday, we went down the 115
affectionately called, “Mango Alley,” to collect some Ataulfo mangos (Champagne
mangos) that ripened and fell to the ground like manna for the community to
enjoy. Locals and tourists with their grocery bags line the road looking for
the best specimens; it reminded me of Easter egg hunts and the excitement when
you find the perfect one that someone else overlooked.
We have been residents for only 5 months and
yet we feel a deep connection to the culture and the way of life. We have been
embraced here in a way that is not common anywhere esle that we have
experienced in the States. Puerto Ricans are warm, friendly, inviting, and
patient – especially with our pathetic attempt at Spanish.
Island life provides a unique juxtaposition
of being geographically disconnected from the States and yet still being a US
the United States has sixteen
territories, five of which are permanently inhabited: Puerto Rico, Guam,
Northern Mariana Islands,
the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. They are
classified as unincorporated territories so no passport is needed to travel
from the States.
On March 2, 1917, the Jones–Shafroth Act was signed, collectively making Puerto Ricans United States citizens without rescinding their Puerto Rican citizenship.
how does that work with taxes, voting and all the other rights and
responsibilities of US citizens?
Let’s be clear. We are not CPA’s, lawyers or politicians. We are Urban Farmers here to help the island obtain food sovereignty and give Puerto Ricans an advantage. In our research on Puerto Rico, we have learned of a great many “incentives” that helped to make our contribution and relocation more feasible. We are not hoping to educate people on all the tax advantages and if you are interested in why we pay ZERO US Federal Income tax, you can read about how that works through ACT 22. What I will say is that when we did the math comparing taxes in Puerto Rico vs. California, the results were astounding…and extremely motivating.
Rico has its share of challenges.
September 19, 2017, Hurricane Maria obliterated the island. It was the worst
hurricane in almost a century. Though the facts around the impact are not always
consistent, the devastation was clear and in many parts of the island, recovery
is still ongoing.
the island was in trouble long before Maria; the utilities, infrastructure,
government and economy were already circling the train. The two facts that
really grabbed our attention most were these:
Thousands of people have left the island in search of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate hovers around 8.5% and is projected to trend around 11.20% in 2020.
Over 90% of the food on the island is imported and the quality is subpar and lack nutrition due to the food miles.
These were the biggest factors driving our decision to move here – create jobs and grow healthy, fresh, all natural produce in a #HurricaneProtected #Aquaponics #VerticalFarm built in a vacant warehouse. Pretty simple concept; super ambitious (and capital intensive) project.
Puerto Rico is working hard to bring
businesses to the island by offering plethora of incentives. They are looking
for anything that will grow the economy and reduce the unemployment rate:
Along with Act 22 for residency and personal reasons, there are a number of other reasons for people to invest in Puerto Rico:
Can we pull this off? Not without the
help of investors and donations. To date, we have:
The team with all the experience essential for success
The interns from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez ready to put their knowledge to work
Multiple incentives from the Government, PRIDCO and the USDA
A 11,500 square foot building on an acre and a half.
Been awarded a $250K solar grant
We are grateful for all the support we have received and continue to experience. We have pushed through the challenges that island life brings working many 12 hour days to get this project off the ground and growing…literally.
We have had many victories along the way and the setbacks
have not dampened our enthusiasm or resolve.
Fusion Farms is not just a dream. It is a reality and one we are proud to share. If you want to be a part of our journey, please continue to follow us, share our story with others and visit our Online Public Offering Campaign page to read about the investment opportunity.
Thank you again for your interest in seeing Fusion Farms succeed. We have a long way to go and we have our eye on the goal. On behalf of Puerto Rico, muchas gracias!
For the past 2 days, we have attended a certification
program on Food Safety. The information is vital to the health of a farm as
well as the consumers who benefit from what the farm produces.
Much of the emphasis is on
traditional farming and all of the potential contamination events that can happen in the field
and post harvest in spite of best efforts. The soil, the water to irrigate the
vegetation and even the process to wash the produce can provide a perfect
environment for pathogens to take hold. With the expanse of so many traditional
farms along with the rate at which bacteria, viruses and pests can multiply, it
is an ongoing battle that keeps farmers working around the clock.
The beauty of indoor vertical farming is that you can control the environment in a way that minimizes the risk and produces consistency and predictability in an otherwise random industry. The water can be tested, filtered, naturally enhanced with nutrients, and even cooled to ensure success; something that would be impossible on a 100-acre farm. In hydroponics and aquaponics, the roots are not grown in soil but in water where the nutrients flow evenly reaching every part of the root structure evenly on each and every plant.
Growing in soil is another matter. Vegetation planted
in the soil is only as good as what the roots come in contact with. If there is
nutrient depletion, mold spores or an underground pest, it will be extremely
difficult to identify and prevent damage or crop loss.
Outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens
have increased as risk factors in traditional farming and the need for food
safety becoming more critical. Unfortunately, some of the efforts to eliminate
the risks have caused more than their fair share of consequences, thanks to
GMO’s and pesticides (which is a post for another time.)
That is precisely why hydroponics and aquaponics are
becoming a focal point for the future of agriculture. Consumers are more
educated and they are paying more attention to the “condition” their food is in
when it hits their dinner plates.
People are starting to care where their food is
coming from and the influence under which it is grown. Consumers are starting
to embrace the concept that local food is better for you – whether
traditionally grown or hydroponically. What is important to realize, however,
is what the food was exposed to (locally or not) from seed to harvest and
Food safety is a big responsibility for all farmers.
But to what end will farmers go to make sure their produce is safe? Best
practices are not always the cheapest; indoor vertical farming is costly up
front but the results and long-term benefits are far more consistent and nutritious
than what can be achieved outdoors, in most cases. Outdoor organic farmers face
far more stringent regulations and practices, not to mention the cost involved.
It is not an easy business.
Investing in hydroponics and aquaponics is a progressive bet that Controlled Environment Agriculture will change the way we grow, distribute and eat meals that come from sustainable, healthy, chemical-free, non-GMO produce with a low carbon footprint.
Fish poop is powering a new agricultural model that can feed Puerto Rico’s hurricane-stricken population while using less water and less land.
Outside, the rain
hammers against the facility roof and the wind howls with intense voracity,
tearing up power lines and ripping the roofs off unprotected homes. Within the
reinforced concrete walls of the PRIDCO building, however, thousands upon
thousands of heads of lettuce proliferate and thrive, wholly unaware of the
carnage going on outside. Here, fed by nutrient and nitrate-rich water and
renewably sourced power, agriculture can continue irrespective of the weather.
The island’s people may lose power in their homes; they may even lose the roofs
on their houses…but they will have food.
This is the model being
put forward by Fusion Farms,
an organization striving to bring hurricane protected Controlled Environment
Agriculture (CEA) aquaponic farms to the Caribbean island nation of Puerto
In September 2017, Puerto
Rico’s existing problems – lack of infrastructure, unreliable power grid,
importing vast majority of its food – became exponentially worse with the
landfall of Category 5 Hurricane Maria. And without the necessary organization,
relief, and support, the nation struggles – to this day – to get back up on its
What Puerto Rico needs
is a protected, local food source that can thrive irrespective of the weather –
providing the island’s population with fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables,
and fish that are available all year round. And so, Fusion Farms proposes to build a series of hurricane protected,
climate controlled aquaponics farms.
What is an
Aquaponics is a
sustainable method of farming that combines aquaculture (raising fish) and
hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). It is an elegantly simple
agricultural model that leverages the existing natural relationship between
various components of the food chain, namely plants and fish. In an aquaponic
system, plants are grown in a closed environment fed by nutrient rich water
This nutrient rich
water is created by fish (i.e. fish poop), which is fed through the vertically
stacked tiers of plants. The plants filter out the nutrients and nitrates,
thereby cleaning the water, which is then returned to the fish tanks. In this
way, an aquaponics farm is one great big loop that requires lesser inputs than
a traditional farm and is certainly far less vulnerable to external influences.
A Deep Water Culture hydroponics system where
plants grow directly into the nutrient rich water without a soil medium. Plants
can be spaced closer together because the roots do not need to expand outwards
to support the weight of the plant. Source: Bryghtknyght – Own work, CC BY 3.0.
Harvest 365 days a year
There are no seasons in
a controlled environment facility and so plants and fish can be grown and
harvested 365 days a year. Furthermore, and according to the resident scientist
and lead aquaponics technician at EcoLife
Conservation, Martin Niwinski, since nutrients are constantly available to
plants’ roots, plants can grow up to 25% faster than in soil.
Using less water
By recycling its water,
aquaponics requires substantially less water than traditional farming. This is
especially beneficial in the parts of Puerto Rico that receive lower rainfall,
as well as in other water-restricted communities and countries around the
Requiring less land and
conserving indigenous vegetation
constructed systems, plants can be grown in vertical tiers – one on top of the
other (as shown in the 3D rendering below). This means that much less land is
required to produce exponentially more produce, thus negating the need to clear
indigenous vegetation to accommodate farmlands.
3D rendering of vertical racks of hydroponically
grown plants inside Fusion Farms’
100% Pesticide free produce
In a closed environment
aquaponics farm, both fish and plants are less vulnerable to external
influences, so pesticides aren’t necessary. In any case, fish are extremely
sensitive to chemicals so you couldn’t even hope to maintain such a system
You can grow what you like
Many of the fruits,
vegetables, and leafy greens that are popular in the United States need to be
imported to Puerto Rico because they do not grow well in the island’s tropical
climate. With a controlled climate facility, Fusion Farms will be able to grow the produce that is in the
For a sustainable future
Currently, Puerto Rico
imports a staggering 90% of its fresh produce, which has to travel hundreds if
not thousands of miles to get to grocery store shelves. By establishing a
reliable, local source of fresh produce, Fusion
Farms will eliminate the need to import food, thereby contributing to a
much more sustainable future.
There are many
challenges to funding, setting up, building, and running an aquaponics farm,
especially on the island of Puerto Rico. But the team at Fusion Farms has already devised the answers to many of these
challenges. By combining elements of hydroponics, aquaculture, and renewable
energy in a fully contained and controlled environment, Fusion Farms could potentially solve many of the crises facing the
island nation today.
research on looped aquaponic ecosystems has paved the way for repeatable,
scalable food production, which represents an innovative advance in the way
food supplies will be grown in the future!
You can help Fusion Farms establish a food sovereign future for Puerto Rico and many nations like it by investing in our pilot project.
There’s a food revolution going on and producers that don’t keep up with the times will find their share of the market slipping between their fingers.
With the relentless passage of time, advances in technology, and spread of environmental and #health awareness come a myriad of ever-shifting trends that affect the foods and produce we are prepared to put in our grocery baskets. These trends range from packaging, which must be environmentally friendly or it won’t be supported, to a growing preference for local producers and suppliers – the fewer the “food miles”, the better. What these trends tend to have in common are the betterment of the environment and the increasing support of local farmers.
Here’s what we expect to see in 2019….
Don’t forget the “Baby Boomers”
2019 Food trend: as Baby Boomers continue to embrace technology and educate themselves in the options available to them, they too will become savvier in their food choices.
Baby Boomers might be approaching their 70’s in age, but their increasing grasp of technology is empowering them to make more intelligent food choices, as is the case with the younger generations. Given that they constitute 25% of the population (and have the most buying power of all the generations), they matter enormously as a target market.
Innovations in packaging
Molded pulp uses recycled newsprint to form package components. Here, researchers are molding packaging from straw. Source: Peggy Greb, Public Domain.
2019 Food trend: we expect to see the continued development of innovative, environmentally friendly packaging options that ensure fresher produce.
Today’s consumer demands food that is fresh, ripe, and unprocessed but also delivered in packaging that is made from environmentally friendly, biodegradable materials. In order for grocery stores to keep shoppers happy, they need to stock produce that has a longer shelf life and that has a lesser environmental impact.
Local shopping the “in” thing
2019 Food trend: more and more consumers are favoring locally grown, fresh produce over imported, pre-packaged, processed goods.
The fewer the miles food has to travel to get on the plate, the better. It means less transport-related pollution and fresher produce. This is a concept referred to as #foodmiles – why pay for vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles and waited several days in customs, when you can buy something that was harvested from the ground that very morning from a local farmer’s market? Within grocery stores and supermarkets, it is also preferable to see that the fresh produce is locally sourced.
If distributors turn their attention to local producers, they won’t only help to stimulate the local economy, but will also contribute enormously to a healthier environment.
Traceable and transparent
2019 Food trend: the demand for organic products peaked in 2018. Now, the focus shifts to accommodate traceability and transparency, which essentially helps consumers understand where their food comes from, how it was grown/treated, and how many miles it has had to travel, etc.
There are proliferating numbers of software programs and apps that allow consumers to trace the origins of their food right down to the plot of land it was grown on and the chemicals that were used to treat it during its growth cycle. Some apps help the public determine which producers operate sustainably, while others lead them to the best local alternatives in an effort to reduce food miles.
We are moving into an era in which the consumer wants to see more than just the product of #agriculture – they also want to see the story behind it and do their bit to contribute by making the most sustainable, environmentally friendly food choices possible.
The public holds the agricultural sector accountable
2019 Food trend: the agricultural sector needs to prioritize transparency, sustainability, and humane food practices or else suffer the penalties.
Last year, the emphasis was on getting food produce from farm to market in the most environmentally friendly way possible. This year, the pressure is on the agricultural sector to further reduce their carbon footprint and #greenhouse gas emissions, while improving the quality and freshness of their produce. They are also expected to be as humane as possible in the processing of animal products, with buzzwords being “free-range”, “grass-fed”, etc.
Food producers who don’t adhere to these pressures risk more than just a loss of consumer support; they might also face penalties and fines in the future.
A better, healthier food future
Locally sourced produce and farmers markets have become increasingly popular. Source: www.Pixabay.com
2019’s Food trends, which will hopefully extend into the coming decade, aren’t just reserved for Millennials and hipsters. Technology, food apps, and the vast and limitless reach of the Internet have empowered consumers across multiple generations to make more intelligent food choices. These are the everyday decisions that will help to clean up the environment by reducing food miles and eliminating plastic packaging; hold the agricultural sector accountable by demanding greater sustainability, humane practices, and transparency; limiting food wastage; and empowering local farmers, communities, and economies.
Fusion Farms in Puerto Rico aims to incorporate these food trends and practices in our indoor, hurricane-protected #aquaponics agricultural model, not only here in the beautiful Mayagüez district on the western portion of the island, but anywhere and everywhere our model is adopted.
In September 2017, the most devastating storm to have ever made landfall on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico slammed into its coastline. Virtually overnight, the island’s already struggling infrastructure and farmlands were razed to the ground, delivering a blow that countless Puerto Ricans are still, to this day, trying to recover from.
The morning after #HurricaneMaria, a road in the Roseau area is littered with structural debris, damaged vegetation, and downed power poles and lines. Source: Roosevelt Skerrit from Vieille Case, Dominica, Public Domain
It was during a visit to the island before and after Hurricane Maria that California entrepreneurs and partners, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander, conceived of the idea to build a hurricane-protected #aquaponics farms within a large concrete PRIDCO (the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company) warehouse that had been left vacant.
Hurricane Maria is just one of the reasons Puerto Rico is a shadow of what it could be…but what remains clear is that this beautiful, tropical paradise has incredible potential for growth, self-sufficiency, and #foodsovereignty.
Kendell and Lisa have made the move to Puerto Rico, assembled the business plan, built a website, launched a Start Engine fundraising campaign to help build the first of many hurricane-protected farms, and have obtained approval to occupy a vacant PRIDCO warehouse.
Inside PRIDCO’s vacant warehouse in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. This image was taken by Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander during a visit to secure the site for their first Fusion Farms facility.
In the short-term, funding permitting, the goal is to build the first hurricane-protected Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) facility for Fusion Farms that will make use of aquaponics and vertical farming techniques to produce a reliable supply of fresh, non-GMO, 100% pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. Since the farm will maintain a network of freshwater tilapia ponds, the offering will also extend to the harvesting (but not processing) of fresh fish.
In addition to fresh produce, Fusion Farms aims to become a thriving center for the employment, education, and training of the local population. Realizing the incredible experience and value Puerto Rican farmers have to offer, Lisa and Kendell have made it a core part of their plan to fully utilize this resource by employing local farmers in the aquaponics facility, while also training inexperienced hands.
A 3D rendering of the intended transformation of one of PRIDCO’s vacant warehouses on Puerto Rico. Source: www.FusionFarmsPR.com
Medium-term goals for Fusion Farms
The dream for Fusion Farms doesn’t end with the completion and successful running of the first facility. It begins.
“We aim to develop a repeatable, sustainable, and scalable model for a hurricane protected CEA aquaponic farm,” explains Lisa Jander. “One that can be repeated across the island of Puerto Rico.”
Currently, the island, which is perfectly capable of feeding its own population were it properly cultivated and protected, imports around 90% of its fresh food produce. This is expensive and affects food quality. It’s also unsustainable since the food has to travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles to get to Puerto Rican’s plates.
In the medium term, Fusion Farms intends to build a network of indoor aquaponic facilities that will cater to the needs of the island. It also intends to establish a fully fleshed out training program for locals, who can then become employed on the farms, and a model it can export elsewhere to other nations experience similar challenges.
Long-term goals for Fusion Farms
The challenges #PuertoRico face are not unique. Across the globe, there are hundreds of stricken, impoverished nations that not only suffer political problems and ineffective infrastructure but also frequent natural disasters. It is the long-term goal of Fusion Farms to establish a model – movable, repeatable, and scalable – for building and running hurricane-protected, climate-controlled indoor farming facilities that can feed, train, and employ the local population.
For now, the focus is on Puerto Rico, where there is a dire need for food sovereignty. But if Fusion Farms can make a difference here, then there is potential to make a worldwide impact.
You too can become a part of the movement towards a food sovereign future for all by becoming an #impactinvestor in Fusion Farms.
The tropical paradise is not just a pretty face! It sets a prime example by running entirely on renewable energy for almost a year.
White sand beaches, crystalline blue water, tangled jungles, dramatic volcanic and mountain landscapes, and stunning wildlife…Costa Rica has, for decades, been the destination of choice for honeymooners and holiday-makers from all over the world. But what this country has managed to achieve over the past 10 years has left some of the world’s most advanced nations truly in the dust. Sandwiched between the Central American countries of Panama (south) and Nicaragua (north), Costa Rica has, and is, making good on its commitment to running on clean, renewable energy.
The country is “not just a pretty face,” it would seem!
Powering homes, cities, and an economy with clean, renewable energy
As of November 2017, Costa Rica has been able to generate more than 99% of its energy needs using renewable resources like #solar, hydro, geothermal, wind, and biomass energy. In 2015, this popular travel destination generated 100% of its energy needs for 299 consecutive days; in 2016, for 271 days; and in 2017, for 300 days. Turning to wholly renewable sources and processes, Costa Rica was able to power its homes, cities, and economy without any fossil fuels, positioning this tiny tropical paradise leaps and bounds ahead of what are considered to be the world’s most technologically advanced nations.
Carlos Manuel Obregón, Executive President of the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity, explained that they were able to achieve this incredible feat through improvements to the grid and upgrading #cleanenergy power plants. This record goes hand-in-hand with the Costa Rican government’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2021, a deadline that was established over a decade ago.
A developing nation shows developed nations “how it’s done”
What is particularly notable about this is that Costa Rica is considered to be a developing nation that does not have the same economic firepower as, for example, the United States or China. This sets an admirable example for developing nations around the globe and particularly its Caribbean neighbor, #PuertoRico, which has struggled with power outages and an unreliable power grid since Hurricane Maria slammed into its coast in September 2017.
It also goes to show that it doesn’t take a powerful economy and advanced technology to go “off the grid.” Costa Rica has prioritized its shift to renewable energy by investing taxpayers’ money on the necessary technology and infrastructure, while the world’s more developed and affluent countries have lagged behind.
A living, breathing example of smart investment
Costa Rica may be a small country with much lower power needs than, for example, the United States or China, but its government had the prescience to invest in renewable energy at a much earlier stage. Today, it is a living, breathing example of what is possible when a nation’s government employs foresight and planning and invests money in the right places. This should serve as an inspiration not only to the countless other small, developing nations of the Caribbean and around the world but also to the world’s “superpowers” who can’t seem to wean themselves off of non-renewable fossil fuels.
Now, as long as there are ocean waves, sunlight, wind, and geothermal energy (or one of those four), Costa Rica will be able to generate clean, renewable energy. And it’s this philosophy that Fusion Farms intends to apply to its operations in Puerto Rico.
About Fusion Farms
Fusion Farms aims to establish a reliable and protected source of fresh, 100% organic, pesticide-free, and non-GMO fruits and vegetables to the island of Puerto Rico. Source: www.Pixabay.com
Fusion Farms is an organization that strives to bring Controlled Environment Agriculture to the island of Puerto Rico. By establishing vertical #aquaponics farms inside hurricane protected, climate-controlled indoor facilities, powered mostly if not entirely by solar energy and wind turbines, Fusion Farms can establish a reliable source of fresh, healthy, 100% GMO, and pesticide-free fruits, vegetables, and fish for the island’s population.
Three years ago, a couple from San Diego, California, went on holiday to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. They indulged in the island’s delicious local foods, went for walks on its spectacular beaches, and enjoyed cocktails against the island’s brilliant backdrop of turquoise water, orange sunsets, and emerald green forests. In other words, they did what most visitors to Puerto Rico do. However, for entrepreneur and real estate expert, Kendell Lang and his wife and business partner Lisa Jander, a seed was planted and the idea for a new future was born…
Struck by Beauty and Potential
Puerto Rico is a stunning, tropical island paradise in the Caribbean Sea. Source: www.Pixabay.com
Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, Kendell Lang has a long-standing passion for and interest in the life sciences. It was on their first month-long visit to Puerto Rico that Kendell and Lisa were struck by the island’s abundant natural resources, beauty, and population of willing, hard-working people. The beginnings of a dream were born: the dream to start a farm. And yet, they were surprised to learn that close to 80% of the produce consumed on the island was imported. Additionally, the strict import regulations mean that the “fresh” produce that is brought in is extremely poor quality once it finally reaches the island.
Then, in September 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Maria made landfall.
Hurricane Maria and Recovery
Hurricanes are large-scale weather systems that cause widespread damage with their intense wind speeds, torrential rainfall, and associated severe weather. Source: www.Pixabay.com
Hurricane Maria claimed over 5,000 lives and left almost every farm on the island utterly devastated, and most homes without power. This increased Puerto Rico’s reliance on imported produce – a problem that persists to this day.
The couple made their return to Puerto Rico a few months after the hurricane only to discover a scene that appeared as though the entire island had been run through some sadistic cosmic blender. Enormous 100-year-old trees had been stripped bare and snapped like twigs, power lines and poles were down everywhere, and the roofs had been ripped off houses.
Kendell and Lisa met with locals, workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and contractors from all over the United States to listen to their stories. The accounts of those who had experienced the hurricane were not what they expected. In spite of the damage, carnage, and loss, there were silver linings where most could see only thunderclouds.
“We were humbled and blessed by the openness, positive outlook and outpouring of community support the Puerto Ricans displayed,” says Lisa. “Grateful that their homes made of concrete remained intact despite the missing roofs and personal possessions destroyed or washed away by the flood – the resilience was astounding.”
This solidified the awakening sense of destiny that Kendell and Lisa felt on the island. Conversations between them shifted to questions about how they could be a part of the long-term recovery of Puerto Rico and how they could contribute to its future. The answer lay in farming…but, not the traditional kind.
Fusion Farms is born
The idea to build hurricane-protected indoor, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) aquaponics farms became the fleshed-out concept behind a new organization and enterprise: Fusion Farms. Here, safe from the weather and under optimal growing conditions, a local team could work to harvest fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even #tilapia, all of which is 100% fresh, pesticide-free, all-natural, non-GMO, affordable, and reliable in supply.
Cherry tomatoes grown in a Controlled Environment Agriculture facility. Source: www.Pixabay.com
“We understood the need for fresh, nutrient-rich food; we recognized that the dilapidated condition of the power grid would be an on-going battle; we knew there would be a language barrier to some degree…but our desire to melt into the wonderful culture and change the narrative for Puerto Rico was stronger than any misgivings we might have had early on,” says Kendell.
Make an Impact: Invest
Hurricane-protected, climate controlled, bio-secure, pesticide-free, fully indoor, mostly off-grid, sustainable, and scalable… these are the buzzwords used by Kendell to describe the new venture he and Lisa are currently launching. And they’ve already made good progress: today, the couple has successfully and permanently moved to Puerto Rico and are hard at work at the task of creating an indoor #aquaponics farm. They’ve also received approval to purchase one of the many abandoned hurricane protected warehouses on the island, and have put together a fully rendered plan of their intended operation.
“This island has so much to give and we would like to give back. Our mission is to create jobs for Puerto Ricans – students, farmers, and other hard-working individuals – and our goal is to help turn the tide of reliance on food imports and traditional farming that is always exposed to the elements,” says Lisa.
You too can become a part of Puerto Rico’s recovery and story.