Impact #Investing for a Greener Future

A new investment trend is connecting investors with opportunities that fund positive impact enterprises and give big returns

Trying to make a positive difference in the world is not typically considered a lucrative vocation. It’s not exactly an endowment of character to capitalize upon the ill fortunes of a suffering cause, group of people, or the environment. How would such an organization justify pocketing its profit?

Over the course of the past decade, there has been a growing #investment trend that is benefitting the fortunes of the cause and the people who spend their money on it. It’s called impact investing.

“Impact investing means putting your money behind companies that generate positive environmental and social outcomes, while also trying to earn meaningful financial returns,” explains Lily Trager of Morgan Stanley, Wealth Management’s Director of Impact Investing.

Making a Difference; Making Money

So, instead of investing your money in traditional funds and stocks, you invest dollars in organizations and companies that affect social and environmental change. In other words, impact investing is the intersection of profit and purpose.

This isn’t a niche concept or budding idea. According to the report “Sustainable Signals: Asset Owners Embrace Sustainability” by Morgan Stanley: “Sustainable investing has gone from a niche investment idea to attracting enough capital to start having an impact on global challenges at a meaningful scale. Globally, more than $22.8 trillion are invested sustainably, representing more than $1 in every $4 under professional management.”

Finding the Right Impact Investment

Installing solar panels to establish a source of clean, renewable energy. Source: www.Pixabay.com

Investors looking to turn a profit while also making a difference should be on the lookout for strong organizations that stand out as authorities in social or environmental fields. These are the companies that innovate products and solutions that are geared at solving problems that range from climate change and lack of access to clean water to food shortages and disease.

A prime example of such an investment avenue is Fusion Farms, an organization in the Mayagüez district of Western #PuertoRico that is focused on building indoor, hurricane protected Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) aquaponics farms. These farms, which combine hydroponics and aquaculture to produce a reliable source of fresh, non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and fish, would be a boon to the island and its people, which are only just beginning to recover from the historic and disastrous Hurricane Maria in 2017.

In addition to building such farms, which would secure Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and create hundreds of jobs for local farmworkers, Fusion Farms aims to establish a sustainable, scalable, and repeatable model and educational training program that can be applied elsewhere in similar locations with vulnerable populations and struggling economies.

Hydroponic farms grow leafy green vegetables like lettuce. Source: www.Pixabay.com

What this means for the investor is that growth isn’t capped at the completion of the first CEA facility in Puerto Rico, but rather has virtually limitless potential considering the applications of this model in stricken, impoverished villages, towns, islands, and nations across the globe.

“Impact investing has grown tremendously in large part because investors aren’t being asked to accept subpar returns,” says Lily Trager. “Plus, positive environmental and social outcomes are increasingly more measurable.”

Investing Dollars for Good

#Impactinvesting is an important channel through which organizations striving to make a difference can acquire the necessary funding, while also providing investors with big returns. We all like the idea of a green future – green is not only the color of money, but also a healthy environment – and one way we can all play our part is to invest in companies that generate positive environmental and social outcomes.


For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to https://www.startengine.com/fusionfarms  or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Hurricane Protected Farming in #PuertoRico

In a region routinely slammed by severe tropical storms, an island on its knees searches for a permanent solution to its food crisis

Located in the equatorial region within the Caribbean Sea, the island of Puerto Rico is a lush, tropical paradise with plentiful, naturally occurring food sources. But with this rich natural heritage, abundant fresh water, and a population of seasoned farmers ready and willing to work, why does agriculture suffer so terribly here?

Why does Puerto Rico import 90% of its fresh produce needs in order to feed its population?

One answer: hurricane damage.

Puerto Rico lies on a collision course with the hurricanes and tropical cyclones that, every June through to November, spin off the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, leaving the island in a constant state of rehabilitation.

Then, in September 2017, a hurricane of mammoth intensity made landfall on the tiny Caribbean island, laying total and utter waste to hectare upon hectare of farmlands and orchards, while also killing 5,000 people and leaving the island without power for months in some places. Hurricane Maria was the worst natural disaster on record to affect Puerto Rico, which, to this day, struggles to get back on its feet. The effects it had on the island’s food sovereignty – on its ability to produce the necessary fresh produce to feed its people – was near fatal.

Storm damage in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Source: www.Gizmodo.com

Hurricane Maria was a Category 5 storm with wind speeds in excess of 175 miles per hour. Yet, even less intense storms rain down extensive destruction: torrential downpours, storm surge flooding, lightning strikes, high wind speeds, and more. With time, investment, and respite, the island of Puerto Rico could rebuild itself, its farmlands, and its ailing economy… but recovery from the past does not ensure security for the future.

In a tropical region in which hurricanes are a certainty, a permanent solution is required.

But how can you protect farms from hurricanes?

Aquaponics: Innovative Farming Technique

On Puerto Rico, there are hundreds of abandoned, government-owned concrete warehouses, some of which were built in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Their sturdy build has ensured their survival, even against the ravages of Category 5 storms. What this spells for the team at Fusion Farms are two things:

(1) The potential indoor space to establish a greenhouse for growing fresh produce, and

(2) One that is hurricane protected and sheltered from damaging winds and excessive rainfall.

Not even Hurricane Maria could fell these concrete warehouses and so they are a proven, hurricane protected venue for indoor farming.

The logic doesn’t end there, though. A more potent and productive farming technique called aquaponics combines hydroponics (indoor, climate-controlled agriculture) and aquaculture (fish farming) to set up a looped system that produces both fresh fruits and vegetables and a source of lean protein: fish.

tilapia

Tilapia: the freshwater fish that will be used in Fusion Farm’s aquaponic facility. Source: www.Pixabay.com

The solution proposed by Fusion Farms sees the hydroponics portion of the farm housed within the concrete warehouse, where it cannot be affected by high winds or excessive rainfall, while the aquaponics portion – the fish farm – will be built underground in circular ponds with a high margin to insure against flooding. Both systems will be carefully controlled by the team at Fusion Farms so that they are sheltered from nature’s fury, as well as outside influences to protect the lifecycle of the farm.

Additionally, the energy required to run the farm will be sourced from solar panels and supplemented by wind turbines, so in the event that the power is cut, the farm can remain productive.

Re-establishing Puerto Rico’s Food Sovereignty

On an island that is located on a well-worn hurricane path, it is essential to start building farms that can withstand severe storms. It is essential if Puerto Rico is to produce a reliable, fresh, non-GMO, and 100% pesticide-free source of fruits, vegetables, and protein for its people. Fusion Farms is one of the first organizations to step forward and not only propose this solution but attempt to source the funding to convert a series of abandoned warehouses into hurricane protected controlled aquaponics environments.

The goal is to re-establish Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and ensure that its population is fed and its farmers have work, even in the event of another natural disaster.


For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

What is Controlled Environment Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a form of #agriculture, the entire premise of which is based upon the mutually beneficial relationship between plants and animals, more specifically fish. The fish are raised in tanks where they are looked after and tended to by farm workers. The water in the tank accumulates fish waste, which, when broken down by bacteria, creates a potent natural fertilizer for plants. This water is continuously flushed out of the fish tanks and channeled through soilless plantations of vegetables and other edible plants. The plants absorb the nutrients from the water, purifying the water, and it is then fed back into the fish tanks.

In this way, the nutrient-rich water from raising #fish provides a natural fertilizer for the plants and the plants help to purify the water for the fish. This all takes place within a closed system or “controlled environment,” in which temperature, humidity, and other important variables for agriculture can be carefully managed. The aim of this control is to recreate an outdoor environment that is super conducive to fast and healthy plant growth. Crops can be grown for food, pharmaceutical, and nutriceutical applications, and algae for food and biofuels.

The benefits of aquaponics

This harmonious relationship between plant and fish creates an exceptionally sustainable and productive agricultural ecosystem that:

  • Requires little water and other resources, since the water is continuously recycled and the fish fertilize the plants (aquaponics uses 90% less water than traditional farming).
  • Can run year-round and in any location on the planet, since it takes place indoors and in an environment where the temperature and humidity can be controlled.
  • Provides a continuous and reliable source of food fish and a great variety of fruit and vegetable products for consumption.
  • Can cater to the needs of an entire family, community, village, hospital, or institution from one relatively small-scale operation.
  • Provides a cheaper alternative to food that has to be imported.
  • Provides food that is free from herbicides, pesticides, and hormones. The reason for this is simple: fish are sensitive to their environments and cannot tolerate harmful chemicals. If these were introduced into an aquaponics system, the fish would likely die.
  • Provides food with a lower risk of contamination or pest infestation, since it is grown and harvested in a closed, controlled environment.

#Aquaponics is also useful for education in schools and universities. With each link in the food chain easy to see and examine, students can learn about the biological relationships between the fish and the plants and take the field of aquaponics further through scientific inquiry.

How aquaponics can feed communities

In countries, cities, and communities that don’t have an established agricultural sector and, consequently, rely on imported food to feed their citizens, aquaponics can offer a sustainable and rich source of healthy, nutritious food. Being locally grown, this produce is also typically more affordable than imported food products and can be made reliably available. In places where the climate is harsh or prone to frequent extreme weather events such as hurricanes, controlled environment aquaponics, which can be built in hurricane-proof buildings, can provide a lasting, reliable solution to food shortages.

Building and managing such operations can also be a good source of jobs for communities who want to take the reins of their food production.

The way of the future

Controlled environment aquaponics truly optimizes the use of resources, such as water, energy, space, capital, and labor, to grow just about any commercially viable crop and food fish, making it a sustainable farming solution for any community in the world.

Food and Water are the New GOLD!

In a modern society where the treasures of old have fallen by the wayside and riches are counted in electronic currencies and perceived, rather than real, two commodities are making a comeback and it’s time they get the attention they deserve: food and water. Just ask the cast of the TV Series Lost or Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away: they would have chosen clean water and fresh food over dollar bills and gold bars any day of the week.

Forgotten commodities

Within the writhing mass of steel, concrete, and glass that comprise our cities, and their choked and congested roadways, restaurants, and shopping malls, water and food have been forgotten as commodities. In most cities, you turn on the tap and there is an endless supply of clean water for bathing, drinking, and washing. Open the fridge or go down to the local supermarket and there is aisle upon aisle of fresh and processed food – enough to feed several armies.

And yet, where our minds are most frequently focused is on money: on hard cash and the number of zeros on our bank statements. This has distracted us immensely from life’s most important commodities – fresh food and clean water. Not any longer! In the war-torn, hurricane-ravaged, and harsh environmental zones on Earth, water and food are the new gold.

A reminder of value

The distribution of the human population on Earth is, in part, a powerful testament to the intrinsic value of food and water. Our original settlements, cities, and then empires were built in close proximity to water and food sources. This is why few desert areas on Earth – whether they are icy wastelands or sweltering sand heaps – have vast cities built upon them. With access to clean, plentiful water and food, a civilization can then turn its attention to more sophisticated activities, such as building machinery, innovating technologies, and scientific inquiry.

Armed with improved technology, we are able to venture further, into harsher climates that might not offer so much food and water but that offer some other precious commodity – perhaps iron, stone, or gold – and settle there. Trade took care of the rest.

But in areas where access to clean and plentiful water and food is severely limited, and colonialism hasn’t interfered, human populations have largely remained primitive in nature; dedicating their lives to foraging, hunting, and surviving, rather than becoming educated and expanding and building. This is not at all to say that one form of civilization is better than the other, but merely an observation that civilizations with easy access to plentiful water and food have the luxury of channeling their energies into the proliferation of the arts, sciences, and technologies.

Why this is changing

Economic downturns, market crashes, bubble bursts, and the dizzying roller-coaster ride of cryptocurrency values tell us that while 21st Century wealth can afford you luxury, it cannot guarantee your survival. This is the basic plot of every post-apocalyptic movie, TV series, and book that’s been released, ever. When the civilized world comes crashing down, the money in your wallet holds greater value as kindling than anything else.

What kind of wealth is that?

And, let’s not forget the divine fact that a power outage brings ALL of the above – the Internet, the cryptocurrency, the banks, the stock market, and more – to a crashing halt. At the end of the day, the human race is just trying to survive and when you strip all of the layers of excess, luxury, and lifestyle away, you’re left with two absolutely essential commodities with which you can survive, feed a community, build an economy, and raise an empire from the ground up.

Water and food: the new gold. Or more accurately, the ORIGINAL gold.

How to Solve an Economic Crisis with Sustainably-Grown Food

Puerto Rico has been in the headlines a lot lately and not for the right reasons. For years, the country has been sliding deeper and deeper into debt, which was estimated at $73 billion in October 2017. Then, on 16th September 2017, a high-end category 4 storm, Hurricane Maria, slammed into the island, leaving its inhabitants without homes, electricity, and water.

The intense financial and humanitarian pressures closing in on the tiny Caribbean nation forced it in May of this year to file for “the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy in history,” according to an article by CNN Money. In other words, Puerto Rico is in the grips of a financial and humanitarian crisis that has seen little to no improvement over the past year, and that continues to face an enormously uncertainty future.

Puerto Rico’s Problems Defined

What exactly does “financial and humanitarian crisis” mean?

  • 48% of the population lives below the federally defined poverty line.
  • 27% of Puerto Ricans are on some form of government subsidy.
  • There is an on-going energy crisis: one power company holds a complete monopoly over the island and its management ranks are riddled with corruption.
  • There is an on-going economic crisis: the labor participation rate is a paltry 39%, no new jobs are being generated, and, sick of the turmoil and lack of service, educated and skilled inhabitants are leaving the island in their droves.
  • The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corporation (PRIDCO) has tens of millions of square feet of empty buildings that have been abandoned in the ongoing economic downturn.

In addition to this, the island of Puerto Rico faces severe food shortages:

  • Hurricane Maria obliterated 80% of its farms, which was actually just one of two devastating hurricanes to have hit the island in recent years and from which there has been little recovery.
  • Local farming has all but disappeared because of the domination of large colonial-era plantations, which have focused agriculture on the island on mono-crop farming.

Consequently, 90% or more of the food consumed on Puerto Rico has to be shipped in. This not only makes it more expensive, but also requires the food to travel a minimum of 1,500 miles for weeks at a time, impacting quality, nutrition, and freshness. This is a travesty for a tropical island that could and should be producing its own fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish.

This is the problem. Now, let’s take a look at the solution….

Solving Puerto Rico’s Financial and Humanitarian Crisis

Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment, continues to be a spectacularly beautiful island that is rich in natural beauty and natural resources. Our objective is to work with the afore-mentioned Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corporation (PRIDCO), the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, and several other strategic partners to prove that the solution to the island’s crisis is to, once again, take its primary industries of agriculture and fishing into our own hands. The sustainable indoor growing of fruits, vegetables, and fish is an economically viable solution to accomplish that goal.

The first step would be to create aquaponic farms inside those vacant buildings we mentioned and bring people and communities together in a shared educational space. By repurposing unused real estate – and ensuring that these spaces are hurricane proof – we can create a viable example of urban agriculture that can withstand the abuse of severe storms, and assume a “nothing is wasted” approach.

An alternative source of fresh, locally-grown food

These aquaponic farms would supply an alternative food source that is incredibly fresh, rich in nutrients, sustainable, and affordable. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, aquaponics raises farmed fish that can provide people with a live, natural protein source.

  • We would be utilizing all-natural techniques to balance the ecosystem without pesticides or chemicals.
  • We would be reconnecting Puerto Ricans with agriculture, industry, and a powerful sense of purpose.
  • We would be creating jobs, sustainable and affordable food, and a culture of self-reliance.
  • And all with a smaller carbon footprint.

This is the solution that Fusion Farms (a DBA of FPMG, Inc.) wishes to propose, a Controlled Environment Aquaponics or CEA facility for sustainable, renewable, energy efficient indoor growing of organic food in hurricane-proof buildings.

Together, we can help Puerto Rico grow its economy and restore the pride of this beautiful island to its people.

Farming Technology Making Local Sustainable Food Sources Accessible

The exponential growth of the human population has in recent years brought agriculture to the fore of our attention. This time, however, the focus isn’t exclusively on producing as much food as possible but rather on farming practices that are sustainable and profitable. We can no longer afford to pump food out of our farmlands, vineyards, greenhouses, and grow facilities without considering the impact of these industries upon the environment.

With renewed environmental respect becoming mainstream, more farmers are investing in technology that is helping them to farm more sustainably and more profitable, too. This technology ranges from field machinery, moisture sensors, and gadgets to a rather surprising suite of smartphone apps that are eliminating the middleman and returning the profit to the farmers. Let’s take a look at these various sustainable farming technologies.

“The goal of sustainable agriculture is to meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Practitioners of sustainable agriculture seek to integrate three main objectives into their work: a healthy environment, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.”

UC David Agricultural Sustainability Institute 

Smartphone apps connecting producers with consumers

Rather than selling wares locally and encouraging a healthy local economy for agricultural produce, many farmers have been seduced into selling to international markets. This made food more expensive for locals (because they were competing with international prices) while also translating into an enormous carbon footprint.

Thankfully, recent years have seen a powerful push to support local food producers and to minimize the distance each head of cabbage or punnet of chicken eggs has to travel before reaching the consumer’s table.

One of the most successful ways this is making headway is through a suite of smartphone apps, such as FarmDrop, Food Assembly, and Farms2Tables. These apps enable users to conveniently place an order online for fresh, seasonal farm produce – fruits, vegetable, dairy, meats, etc. – and either have it delivered to their door or collected from a weekly “drop” location near them. Done this way (direct from farm to table) the distributors and various middlemen are eliminated from the transaction, returning the majority of the profits to the farmer’s pocket.

Other apps, such as Locavore and Farmstand are putting consumers in direct contact with local food producers and/or the necessary information they need to make smart, seasonal, and sustainable food choices.

Multi-spectral analysis

Multispectral imaging helps a farmer monitor the real-time health and hydration of crops by measuring the wavelength spectrum emitted or reflected by that patch of ground. Unhealthy or dehydrated crops will emit a particular signature, which can subsequently be specifically remedied, rather than wasting a lot of water and nutrients on an entire field; or deploying pesticides/medications indiscriminately. This minimizes environmental impact and is certainly a more cost-effective approach for the farmer.

In-field water sensors

The large-scale deployment of in-field water sensors is useful for the real-time monitoring of site-specific moisture and temperature characteristics. This, in turn, helps farmers decide upon an irrigation scheme that is best suited to the environment and the soils, ensures that crops are healthy, reduces evaporation, and minimizes water wastage.

Renewable energy for farming

Solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels offer farmers a source of clean power that is minimally invasive and (mostly) carbon emission free. Moreover, the excess energy these technologies produce can be channeled back into the grid to power neighboring communities. Also, harvesting animal waste products such as cow and chicken manure can be used as fertilizers, which can help cut back on costs and minimize the unnecessary use of chemicals.

Adopting a cross-disciplinary approach to farming

Farmers are increasingly adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to agriculture, giving careful consideration to all aspects of the land, the environment, and the community and not just pumping out as much produce as possible. Achieving this mindfulness has largely been facilitated and made possible through the advent of new technologies – such as those we have discussed – that enable farmers to get their work done more efficiently and with less demand on the environment.

Today, #farming can be done profitably and sustainably through a plethora of technologies that blend a sophisticated understanding of biology, engineering, chemistry, economics, community, and more to help us work towards a more environmentally conscious and sustainable future.