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.
Thus, Fusion Farms was born.
Short-term goals for Fusion Farms
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.