Interview with Lisa Jander and Kendell Lang, Founders of Puerto Rico’s First Indoor, Vertical Aquaponics Venture, Fusion Farms

Fusion Farms, Puerto Rico

Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Or at least it will be once the vertical planter racks have been stacked and the fish successfully established inside their new habitats!

For the past few years, husband and wife team, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander have been hard at work planning and doing battle to get their concept for a new local, sustainable, and reliable source of fresh produce established in Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island into hurricane-protected, vertical aquaponic farms. Just this past month, they celebrated a major milestone when they were handed the keys to their pilot facility in Mayagüez, western Puerto Rico, and received their first-ever delivery of farming equipment.

It’s been a hard slog for the couple who moved down from San Diego in 2018 to pursue their dream of helping Puerto Rico become more food sovereign and less dependent on imports from the United States and further afield. Every victory constituted the surmounting of exponentially more trials but with the keys to their new facility in hand and the equipment deliveries beginning to arrive, their dream of establishing a hurricane-protected farm is beginning to physically manifest. We sat down to chat with Kendell and Lisa about their vision for Fusion Farms and for their new home, Puerto Rico.

Q: What is the concept behind Fusion Farms?

Kendell: “Fusion Farms is a hurricane-protected, aquaponic vertical farm that constitutes a piece of the puzzle for a solution to food sovereignty for the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.”

Q: What does that mean day-to-day at Fusion Farms?

Kendell: “Essentially, we are building an urban farm inside of a hurricane protected building. We will have vertical rack structures that use the nutrient-rich water from fish tanks to provide soil-less growing conditions for hyper-local fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs to the local market.”

3D rendering of Fusion Farms’ climate-controlled vertical agriculture facility

Lisa: “In other words, our produce does not have to be shipped fifteen hundred miles from the United States or other countries, which is currently the case for much of Puerto Rico. Right now, more than 90% of the food that is consumed on the island is shipped in from other places around the world, not just the United States. Before it is shipped, it sits on the docks for several days and is subjected to pesticides and the Jones Act. By the time it gets to Puerto Rico, the nutrients have pretty much leached out of the food.”

Q: Aside from establishing a farm, what is the added value you are offering Puerto Rico?

Kendell: “The value-add that we are creating is a hurricane protected food source on the island, which will keep producing fresh, healthy, local food even if and when Puerto Rico is subjected to another violent storm. During Hurricane Maria, food shortages became a critical issue because 80% of the farms were completely destroyed. Being located in a hurricane hotspot means that the farms of the future on Puerto Rico need to be able to withstand hurricane-force winds and torrential downpours of rain. Fusion Farms is innovating and introducing that solution.

Q: Would you explain your solution?

Lisa: “We are re-purposing a dormant asset of the Puerto Rico government; there are hundreds of these concrete buildings located throughout the island, many of which are vacant or abandoned. We are taking that asset and converting it into revenue and property tax-generating, job-creating, and food growing solutions. Aquaponics and vertical farming are not new farming techniques and we are not reinventing the wheel. Where Fusion Farms is unique is that it’s merging these technologies into a hurricane protected solution to cater to the circumstances in Puerto Rico.”

“Our food never has to travel more than 100 miles to reach the people of Puerto Rico”

Kendell: “Our pilot project in Mayagüez is an 11,500 sq. ft. concrete warehouse on 1.47 acres of land. This building was constructed in 1961 and has survived all the hurricanes that have affected the island, from Hurricanes George and Irma to Maria, and is standing virtually untouched. We are taking this resilient, concrete warehouse and converting it into an urban aquaponic farm with racks, grow troughs, seed trays, and LED grow lights to establish a completely controlled indoor environment. Solar panels will power the lights and we will be collecting rainwater for fish and plants.”

Fusion Farms’ pilot facility, Mayagüez

Q: Why are there so many abandoned concrete warehouses on Puerto Rico?

Kendell: “Over the past few decades, the expiration of certain tax incentives in the pharmaceutical industry lead to economic problems that, in turn, caused these buildings to become vacant. In that vacancy, they fell into a bit of disrepair and, in some cases, were subject to vandalism. They have just been sitting empty so there is a tremendous glut of abandoned buildings all over the island for economic reasons.”

Q: What is it about these buildings that have shielded them from hurricanes?

Kendell: “The industrial and commercial buildings on Puerto Rico, and particularly in population-dense areas, have been designed to withstand hurricanes. The Caribbean is a hurricane zone so it’s just the nature of the beast. The construction standard for these types of buildings is concrete reinforced with steel rebar, which is designed to withstand 300 mph winds. The fastest recorded winds for hurricane Maria were something like 270 mph and so these buildings were predominantly left intact.”

Lisa explores the overgrown property at Fusion Farms

Q: What crops will you grow in your pilot facility?

Lisa: “Ultimately, our goal is to produce a high volume and variety of vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs – as well as provide a fresh source of fish protein. Initially, however, we will be focusing on growing microgreens, and basil to cure the system, which we will be able to harvest on a three to four-week growth cycle.”

Q: Aside from being hurricane protected, what sets Fusion Farms aside from traditional agriculture?

Kendell: “Using vertical farming techniques – racks of plants stacked one on top of the other – and growing 24 hours a day with optimal indoor growing conditions and continuous artificial sunlight, we are able to produce 9 to 12 times what a traditional farm could generate in the same square footage! We are also much more efficient, use 10% or less water than traditional farming, and maintain completely organic standards, which means no herbicides, pesticides, or chemicals. All the nutrients our plants will need will be fed to them aquaponically via the nutrient-rich from the Tilapia in our fish tanks. This water is then fed back into the fish tanks. It is an ideal ecosystem.”

Q: If the farming techniques aren’t new and these abandon buildings have stood for decades, why has Fusion Farms’ model never been done before?

Lisa: “It took Hurricane Maria to draw the necessary attention and investment to the island, really. Currently, there is a list of top ten initiatives to help fix Puerto Rico’s ailing economic engine and all the bad press about its debt, corruption, and challenges. The catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria created awareness and an opportunity for reconstruction, using the federal dollars that have been made available to the island. This could recast the vision of Puerto Rico to be a world leader and a stepping-off point to connect the Americas because of its geographic position, bilingual culture, and heritage of being a US territory.”

Kendell: “Post-hurricane, there have been several huge incentives to revive the economy, and the number one initiative for job creation is agricultural, which right now accounts for less than 1% of the GDP of Puerto Rico. This is where the door has been opened for initiatives like Fusion Farms. Imagine, if the island is able to grow 80% of the needed fresh produce on the island, Puerto Rico could establish a $3.5 billion economic turnaround that will not only create 88 thousand jobs, but will also provide a purpose for all the unused real estate. That positions Puerto Rico to become a net exporter with revenue-generating real estate instead of dead assets on the books of the government.”

Q: Why is local food production important, particularly in Puerto Rico?

Strawberries imported from California still in the store in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Lisa: “We advocate strongly for hyper-local food production but not exclusively for the reasons most people do, which is freshness and taste. Our rationale has to do with the actual nutrient value of the produce and how “food miles” affect it. The fact is scientifically understood – the longer fresh food remains separated from its living parent plant, the more its nutrients break down or leach out, whether by exposure to oxygen, light, or warmer temperatures, etc. For example, spinach loses 90% of its Vitamin C content within 24 hours of harvest. This really highlights the importance of eating fresh, locally grown produce.

“The food Puerto Rico currently receives has traveled thousands of miles and spent weeks in transit, and so it is virtually lifeless and leached of all nutrients by the time it hits grocery store shelves. Nutritional science indicates that eating local and within hours, not days or weeks, of harvesting is the healthiest way to go and this is just one of the goals that Fusion Farms is driven to achieve.”

Kendell: “That’s right: our philosophy of ‘seed to table’ means that you purchase or harvest greens when you plan to eat them and eat them while they’re still fresh.”

Q: Where are you in the process of establishing Fusion Farms today?

Fusion Farms – Guanajibo Industrial Park, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Kendell: “We have completed our business plan, put together our advisory board, and have gathered together a world-class team of advisors, both technical and agricultural. We have also completed all of our filings so we are a corporation in good standing and have been applied for and registered as a bonafide agricultural business with the Department of Agriculture in Puerto Rico. We have our SAM.gov certification, which means that we are a qualified federal contractor and are approved to apply for, and have completed, our application for a Rural Energy of America land grant from the USDA. That was submitted April 1st, 2019.

“A major success for us was the awarding of $250,000 in grant money from PRIDCO as part of our overall incentive program to make all this work. This, in addition to the money we raised through our crowd-funding campaign on StartEngine.com, has enabled us to sign the lease and take ownership of our pilot facility in Mayagüez and start purchasing farming equipment, the first delivery of which we received just this past month.”

Lisa: “We are well on our way to establishing a reliable, sustainable, hurricane-protected source of fresh produce for Puerto Rico!”

Q: Beyond the pilot facility, what is the goal for Fusion Farms?

Lisa: “Ultimately, our goal is to prove out a repeatable, scalable model for vertical aquaponics facilities that we can transplant to other facilities across Puerto Rico, thereby increasing the amount and variety of fresh, local produce and decreasing the island’s dependence on imports. This model can also be transplanted on Puerto Rico’s island neighbors who are also routinely affected by Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, and to other remote areas in the world that could benefit enormously from a local source of fresh produce.”

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

Fusion Farms PR

Spotlight on Puerto Rico Food Sovereignty: “Setas de Puerto Rico”

The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of attorney Rebecca Feliciano, the need to find a new source of income for her family in Puerto Rico’s ailing economic climate in 2011 would become the company that, in just three months from opening, harvested enough fresh mushrooms to cater to the demands of the entire island. The farm’s name is Setas de Puerto Rico, which translates to “mushrooms of Puerto Rico” and is located in the Cuyón neighborhood of Aibonita.

Using a loan of over $330,000 from the Economic Development Bank, Rebecca Feliciano started her mushroom company and farm with the goal of establishing a more lucrative revenue stream. Within the first few months of her operation, she was able to bring on 24 employees and supply a generous harvest of fresh mushrooms to Puerto Rico, making her farm the first of its kind – and, to date, the only of its kind – on the island.

On a visit to Setas de Puerto Rico in 2012, shortly after the company was established, then Governor Luis G. Fortuño had this to say about Rebecca and her pioneering efforts in an unfortunate economic climate:

“These innovative facilities and the extraordinary work of the team at Setas de Puerto Rico Inc. are proof of the ability we all have to reinvent ourselves and seize opportunities to meet the demand for products; in this case, fresh harvested mushrooms. Rebecca took the difficulties she faced and turned them into an opportunity. Her success shows that, with effort, courage, and sacrifice, we can achieve our goals.”

Contributing to Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty

Setas de Puerto Rico is the first Puerto Rican company dedicated to the large-scale production of mushrooms in the country. Of every dollar spent on their products, seventy cents remain in Puerto Rico, contributing enormously to the island’s economic well-being. By developing local production, the farm positively impacts the food supply chain, from distributors and wholesalers to retailers, restaurants, and, most importantly, Puerto Ricans.

Setas de Puerto Rico differentiates itself from its imported counterparts by offering mushrooms that are locally grown, much fresher and more nutritious when they hit shelves, are of a better quality and taste, involve less handling (and therefore stress), and are available at competitive prices. Furthermore, being locally grown, this fresh produce is available in constant and reliable supply on the island, which is important for the businesses (like restaurants and hotels) whose menus feature mushrooms.

Setas de Puerto Rico is an important example of the innovation and pioneering efforts of Puerto Ricans to establish a reliable and sustainable, locally grown food system. For more information on Setas de Puerto Rico, please check out their website at https://setasdepuertorico.com. Alternatively, contact them at +1 (787) 294-6006.

What is the Puerto Rico Food Sovereignty Series about?

This blog series by Fusion Farms focuses on the individuals, couples, families, and friends who are actively contributing to Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and security by investing their time, money, and passion into local agriculture. From coffee plantations and mushroom farms to home-grown organic vegetables and hydroponically grown herbs, each blog tells the story of the unique contributions, trials, and tribulations of a people who are proudly Puerto Rican and who strive towards a better future for this beautiful island nation.

Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island into hurricane-protected, vertical #aquaponic farms. Within this contained and controlled environment, vegetables, micro-greens, and herbs can be grown and supplied to the island, greatly reducing its dependence on imported fresh produce. Furthermore, Fusion Farms will be able to supply a fresh, #sustainable source of fish protein, since Tilapia are an essential component of aquaculture.

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

Fusion Farms PR

Food Sovereignty in Puerto Rico: The Resurgence of Agriculture in the Hurricane Ravaged Nation

Steps are being made to promote Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty, recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and reduce the island’s dependence on imported foods.

In 2009, a major economic crisis hit the Caribbean island nation of Puerto Rico. The ensuing seven years (2009 to 2016) saw upwards of 40,000 home foreclosures and a mass migration of Puerto Ricans to the American mainland, eager to escape the economic tragedy and start over.

According to Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of U.S. housing data provider, Attom Data Solutions, these high level of foreclosures resulted mostly from the island’s long economic slump, which also produced an unemployment rate of 12%.

Yoniel Santana works at his grandmother’s produce stand at La Placita de Santurce farmers’ market, which sells mostly locally grown produce in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Credit: Carlos Giusti / AP, NBC News

One positive consequence of the economic crisis, however – a silver lining – was the shift in industry on the island from manufacturing to agriculture. Eager to create successful local businesses and promote #foodsovereignty in Puerto Rico, many locals started their own farming initiatives.

“We had a very beautiful movement towards agriculture,” said Edwin Almodóvar, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Especially after the wave of layoffs, many people started seeing agriculture as a space for business opportunities.”

Efrén Robles and his wife Angelie Martínez, owners of Frutos del Guacabo, a culinary agriculture farm, inside one of their hydroponic greenhouses. Credit: Angel Valentin, The Guardian

According to 2016 statistics provided by the governor’s office, income from Puerto Rican farms grew by more than $900 million (a significant 25%) between 2012 and 2014. The amount of acreage under cultivation rose by 50% between 2014 and 2018, generating at least 7,000 jobs. From 2015 onwards, 23,000 Puerto Ricans had farming jobs.

It seemed as though #PuertoRico had found its economic niche and on such a fertile tropical island, the potential was great. Then, in September 2017, category five Hurricane Maria slammed into the island, leaving vast tracts of farmlands totally devastated and small scale, local farms ruined either through physical damage or through the destruction of vital infrastructure and the power grid. Even those farms that were able to get back on their feet within a few months of the hurricane were unable to get their fresh produce to market due to roads that had been rendered impassable by fallen trees and rock slides.

Mushrooms grow in Setas de Puerto Rico, an agricultural business located in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. Credit: Rebeca Feliciano, NBC News

Rebeca Feliciano Bras and her husband, who had embarked upon an agro-business Setas de Puerto Rico (Mushrooms for Puerto Rico) in 2011, had their entire crop wiped out by Hurricane Maria. For seven years, they had been growing fresh mushrooms on their plantation in the mountains of Aibonito, the only farm producing local mushrooms on Puerto Rico. When the hurricane hit, the generator responsible for controlling the environment in which the mushrooms grew was destroyed and the roads by which they transported their produce to market became impassable with fallen debris.

“Without transportation, I couldn’t sell,” said Feliciano Bras.

It took the couple nearly a month to clear a path for them to drive into town to sell their harvest.

Today, even 18 months after the storm – the most deadly in Puerto Rico’s history – the island continues to import about 85% of all its fresh food produce, growing just 15% of what’s consumed locally.

For Carlos Suárez, the USDA’s lead representative in charge of hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hurricane Maria demonstrated the need for the island to establish food sovereignty: to become more self-sufficient when it comes to food production.

“It made the public understand it’s not a matter of if, but when,” that transition should take place.

“We have to raise more awareness,” says Franco Marcano, a mechanical engineer and co-owner of Cosechas Tierra Viva, a local farm that grows baby kale, arugula, cilantro, green beans, and eggplant for local farmer’s markets, restaurants, and private deliveries. “Every year we’re prone to hurricanes, droughts, you name it, and we have to be self-sufficient. We need to depend more on crops that can grow quickly.”

We already saw that Puerto Rico is susceptible to not having food. Agriculture should be a matter of national security.”

A produce stand at La Placita de Santurce farmers’ market that sells mostly locally grown produce in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Taken Sept. 23, 2016 by Carlos Giusti / AP, NBC News

Today, there are a number of efforts underway to promote food sovereignty on Puerto Rico. In addition to the burgeoning number of local farms on the island – many of which have bounced back after Hurricane Maria – the Puerto Rican government is offering incentives to farmers, especially those investing in renewable energy technologies and agricultural techniques that are immune from hurricanes, like indoor hydroponics and aquaponics.

And while the island is likely several decades away from feeding itself, the Department of Agriculture and farmers are hoping and working towards a food sovereign future for Puerto Rico.

About Fusion Farms

Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island into hurricane-protected, vertical #aquaponic farms. Within this contained and controlled environment, vegetables, micro-greens, and herbs can be grown and supplied to the island, greatly reducing its dependence on imported fresh produce. Furthermore, Fusion Farms will be able to supply a fresh, #sustainable source of fish protein, since Tilapia are an essential component of aquaculture.

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

A Wonderful Week of Firsts: Fusion Farms’ Receives Keys to Facility and First Ever Equipment Delivery

They say the first step on any journey is the biggest. And while Fusion Farms has been motoring on up that proverbial mountainside for over a year now, laying the extensive business, financial, legal, and administrative foundations for our vertical aquaponics farm in #Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, this past week has seen what has felt like the first step on a new chapter of our story.

Kendell holds up the keys to our hurricane protected PRIDCO building, the soon-to-be home of our indoor vertical aquaponics farm.

On June 30th, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander, the husband-and-wife team behind Fusion Farms, were officially handed the keys to our pilot facility, a vast concrete building, which we have leased from #PRIDCO – the Puerto Rican Industrial Development Company. There are many of these buildings located across the island and have been standing strong, even through severe weather events like Hurricane Maria, since they were built in the 1960’s. It’s inside this very facility that Fusion Farms will be establishing Puerto Rico’s first indoor vertical #aquaponics farm!

The next development that happened this week – and this may seem like a small step but it is an extremely significant one – is that we received our very first delivery of the equipment that will be necessary to start and run our #farm.

The delivery truck pulls into Fusion Farms’ yard
The lawnmower is offloaded into our facility’s delivery bay
Loading the rainwater collection tanks

The delivery consisted of two 400-gallon water storage tanks for the collection of fresh rainwater, a dual propane gas generator with gas tanks, a specialized refrigerator for our seed library, and a power pressure washer for cleaning. Oh, and a tractor lawnmower to keep the yard’s thick grass in check!

These two steps – taking possession of our #hurricane protected facility, the near future home of our vertical aquaponics farms and receiving our first delivery of equipment – constitute the first physical manifestations of the hard work Kendell and Lisa have tirelessly channeled into this dream of theirs. And that dream is to establish a hurricane protected farm on #PuertoRico that can give back to the island by providing a reliable, locally grown source of fresh and healthy leafy greens, herbs, vegetables, and fish.

Having recently been awarded the maximum #solar energy grant amount from PRIDCO for the purpose of installing solar panels, Kendell and Lisa aim to go as “green” as possible, using mostly #renewable energy sources and rainwater to drive their farm. The assistance of a propane power generator will ensure that, regardless of the weather or Puerto Rico’s unstable power grid, Fusion Farms can continue to grow fresh produce.

“Doing well by doing good is our motto,” says Kendell Lang, CEO and co-founder of Fusion Farms. “We believe that successful businesses fulfill an important purpose and, in our case, that purpose is to help uplift Puerto Rico’s struggling economy and combat its reliance on imported food from the mainland. By establishing a reliable, local source of fresh greens and fish protein that can withstand the Caribbean’s notoriously tempestuous weather, we can play a part in getting Puerto Rico to its feet a little faster.”

The current Fusion Farms facility, which is based in Mayaguez, will be the first of many if Kendell and Lisa’s pilot program is a success. Together, the couple aim to flesh out a repeatable, scalable model for hurricane protected #vertical aquaponics farms that can be applied to other PRIDCO buildings on Puerto Rico, on other islands in the Caribbean, or anywhere in the world really.

“If this follows the trajectory we’re fighting for, it’s possible that we’ll be able to establish these farms in remote areas across the island that struggle enormously to gain access to fresh, healthy greens and protein,” says Lisa, co-founder and Director of Operations of Fusion Farms.

For now, we celebrate many firsts: our first-ever delivery of equipment and the first physical step towards establishing Puerto Rico’s first-ever indoor, hurricane protected, and sustainable vertical aquaponics farm!

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

Kendell takes Fusion Farm’s new lawnmower for a test drive.

Four Food Frontiers Changing the World

The global population is relentlessly expanding and the amount of free space left for agriculture is dwindling. The solution is not to hack into the natural environment – if anything, it’s to withdraw from it and allow it to recover. The solution, rather, is to get smart, think outside the box, and start innovating. The following four food frontiers are perfect examples of just that and they are paving the way forward for a healthy and environmental and animal-friendly future.

Welcome to the Age of Aquaponics

Aquaponics is farming without the acreage. Oh, and also the pesticides, grueling dusk-to-dawn hours, and gargantuan water bill. Combining fish farming (aquaculture) and the indoor, controlled climate agriculture of plants (hydroponics), aquaponics is fast becoming a powerful solution to feeding today’s exploding populations, without putting a strain on the environment.

The fish provide the nutrient-rich water the plants need to grow and the plants filter the water for the fish. This all takes place in a closed, climate controlled environment that’s typically powered by solar energy, which optimises plant success (without the need for pesticides) and therefore yield irrespective of the weather and climate outside.

Additionally, aquaponics uses a fraction of the fertilizer, energy, labour, and water that traditional agriculture uses and has proven an exceptionally successful way to produce nutritious, non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and herbs in any kind of environment, from the heart of a bustling city to the middle of a desert. The ability to set up an aquaponics farm of any size (for a family, a community, or an entire city), anywhere in the world is what has positioned this farming technique at the very frontier of all the food trends

“Aquaponics is a fascinating and sustainable method for producing healthy food with minimal impact and effort,” says Gabriel Blanchet, an MIT student and co-founder of Grove Labs. “We believe aquaponics will play a critical role in sustainably producing food in both developed and developing countries.”

Fusion Farms is pioneering aquaponics agriculture in Puerto Rico.

Salads in Space

Mizuna lettuce growing aboard the International Space Station. Source: nasa.gov.


Lasagne in a tube and vacuum-packed chicken à la king is so last century. Nowadays, astronauts in space can turn to living gardens for fresh, healthy greens. In 2002, students at Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory built the Lada greenhouse and used the Russian Progress spacecraft to courier it to the International Space Station (ISS).

This space-friendly greenhouse provides the perfect growing environment for seeds placed inside wick-like structures embedded in a clay material. The clay conveys water to the roots, LED lights mimic sunshine, and fans and air conditioners create desirable temperatures and ventilation.

For now, the Lada greenhouse provides astronauts with freshly grown vegetables and leaves and, according to Gail Bingham, a senior scientist at the Space Dynamics Laboratory and lead engineer for Lada, a psychological break from the barrenness of space. “It’s really hard on the psyches of the astronauts to live in a bare container—the only living thing they encounter is the fungus in their armpits.” Charming.

The system, however, can be used anywhere and given its success in space, might offer a future food solution to colonisation on the moon or another planet!

The sky’s the limit for vertical farming

Lettuce grown in an indoor vertical farming system. Source: By Valcenteu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

In cities where there is precious little square footage available for agriculture, vertical farming is stepping in to offer an efficient and productive system for large volumes of fresh greens. This technique involves stacking growing trays or racks one above the other inside a closed, climate-controlled greenhouse. So, instead of producing a single “storey’s” harvest, as is the case with traditional agriculture, vertical farming produces multiple storeys of harvests.

The biggest indoor vertical farm in the world is located in Newark, New Jersey, and is set to produce around two million pounds of vegetables and herbs each year using a combination of LED lights and soil-less growing techniques.

Fusion Farms will combine aquaponics and vertical farming techniques to create an optimal and exponentially more productive agricultural system than any other on the island of Puerto Rico.

Animal-friendly meat

With plant-based and vegan diets becoming “all the rage”, scientists and engineers have been hard at work trying to develop a product that looks and tastes like meat but is 100% animal-free. No, we’re not talking about meat substitutes created from tofu, soy, or beans but rather a kind of protein substance created from plant materials that replicates the satisfying experience of eating meat, without sending a single animal to the slaughterhouse.

Many products have tried and failed to satiate the meat-lovers’ appetite but one of the more successful of these is called Beyond Meat, which mimics the fibrous structure of animal tissue by running a blend of plant proteins and water through an industrial extruder. The aim of these endeavours is to reduce society’s reliance on meat products and the environmental and ethical issues that come hand-in-hand with the industry.

About Fusion Farms

Fusion Farms proudly operates at the food frontier by combining elements of hydroponics, aquaculture, vertical farming, and renewable energy in a fully contained and controlled environment to grow fresh, healthy, 100% pesticide-free, and non-GMO vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Extensive scientific 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.

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

You Are (and Feel) What You Eat!

Nutritional Psychiatry is Treating Mental Health Problems with the Right Diet

Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and the author of several books that address food and mental health, is a big fan of oysters. Not because he likes to order them off the menu but rather because they are rich in vitamin B12, which studies suggest may help to reduce brain shrinkage. Oysters are also packed with long chain omega-3 fatty acids, deficiencies of which have been linked to higher risk for suicide and depression.

Given the evident connections between nutrition, the brain, and mental health, Dr. Ramsey has largely pioneered an emerging field of medicine that prescribes food – and the nutrients that we are missing in our diet – to counteract depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The field is termed nutritional psychiatry and its practitioners, like Dr. Ramsey, together with chef and food coach Samantha Elkrief, counsel patients on how better eating can ease their particular mental health challenges.

You are, after, what you eat.

Bad diet = impaired mental health

It makes sense that any deficiency in the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that are essential to brain health would affect its function. This influence extends much further than simple performance (the ability to think quickly and efficiently, for example). It also influences our mental health. It therefore stands to reason that consuming the nutrition our brain needs to function optimally would also improve mental health. Determining the precise pathway this happens for each patient is, of course, the challenge that Dr. Ramsey has taken on.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a dominant driver of disability for Americans aged 15 to 44. And it’s Dr. Ramsey’s argument that a poor diet is a major factor contributing to this epidemic. The irony, he says, is that “most Americans are overfed in calories yet starved of the vital array of micronutrients that our brains need, many of which are found in common plant foods.”

The results of a 2017 survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 10% of adults meet the minimal daily federal recommendations for fruit and vegetables: at least one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day. Read full report here.

The usual approach to treating mental health issues is a combination of pharmacological, using prescription drugs like antidepressants, and talk therapy. The argument being made by Dr. Ramsey and other proponents of nutritional psychiatry is that the right food choices – mostly, plant-based – are an indispensible component of the treatment approach. Americans change the way they eat all the time: to slim down, lower their cholesterol, and control blood sugar levels, etc. Yet, few pay attention to diet when it comes to the organ that requires the most energy in the body: the brain.

What does a mental health friendly diet look like?

Our understanding of the impact of diet on mental functioning is in its infancy but studies are being conducted around the world on this subject and the outcomes are indicating that plant-based diets are the way to go:

A 2016 American Journal of Public Health study examined more than 12,000 Australians and found that those who increased the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate reported being happier and more satisfied with their life.

Another study of 422 young adults from New Zealand and the United States showed higher levels of mental health and well being for those who ate more fresh fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, the same observations did not extend to those who consumed canned fruits and vegetables.

 “We think this is due to the higher nutrient content of raw fruits and vegetables, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C, which are vulnerable to heat degradation,” said Tamlin Conner, a study author and senior lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

In 2017, Felice Jacka, Professor of Nutritional and Epidemiological Psychiatry at Deakin University, performed one of the first randomized controlled trials to test whether diet could be used to help treat depression. In the study, the participants who were coached to follow a Mediterranean diet (rich in whole grains, legumes, seafood, and nutrient-dense leafy vegetables) for three months reported mood improvements and lower levels of anxiety. Those who received more traditional therapy showed no improvements.

“Our imaging studies show that the brains of people who follow a Mediterranean-style diet typically look younger, have larger volumes [of healthy gut bacteria], and are more metabolically active than people who eat a more typical Western diet,” said Dr. Lisa Mosconi, director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. Such brain benefits may be protective against the onset of dementia, she said.

Changes you can make today

According to Mosconi, “there is no one diet that fits all” but there are changes you can make today that will have a definite impact on whole body (and mental) health:

  • Eliminate processed foods from your diet. Processed foods are those that have had a series of mechanical or chemical operations performed on it to change or preserve it, for example: frozen pizza, microwaveable dinners, jarred sauces and gravies, deli meats, canned fruits, etc.
  • Minimize meat and dairy. Diets high in animal products have been linked to an increased risk in heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Eat more whole foods. These are plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed. They include whole grains, tubers, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Fresh, fatty fish is also considered a whole food.

It’s important to remember that not everyone is the same and while a particular diet may help improve the mental health of one patient, another might require a slightly different approach. It’s also important to understand that dietary changes and improvements are considered an adjunctive (add-on) to the traditional mental health treatment approaches.

“It’s about slowing down and becoming more mindful, noticing your body and noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods,” says Samantha Elkrief, the food coach who assists Dr. Ramsey.

Fusion Farms is passionate about, and supports the move towards healthy, whole food diets. For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares to Hold Press Conference at Fusion Farms Facility

Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares

With innumerable trials and obstacles safely behind them, the husband-and-wife team behind the hurricane-protected #aquaponics farming initiative, Fusion Farms, can finally celebrate a well and hard-earned success. This coming Tuesday, May 21st 2019, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander together with the island of Puerto Rico will be celebrating at a Press Conference at their pilot facility in Mayagüez, and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares will be attending.

A dream long in the making

Since their first visit to the spectacularly beautiful Caribbean island several years ago, Kendell and Lisa have dreamed about moving to #PuertoRico and establishing a sustainable agricultural initiative that would – in some way –contribute to the island’s recovery. In 2018, they made the move from San Diego, California and after more than a year of hard toil against the monumental tasks of fund-raising and interpreting government grants and incentives, and completing bank applications, they managed to secure the first Fusion Farms facility in Mayagüez, a municipality in western Puerto Rico.  With the help of #PRIDCO, #USDA and the Department of Agriculture, to name a few, Fusion Farms is well on the way to pioneering a sustainable indoor agriculture model for the island.

Press Conference and Incentive Awards

The Press Conference and Incentive Awards are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 21st 2019 at 1:30 PM where community members will be able to see the vision for the indoor farm.

“We are pleased to announce that Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares is scheduled to come to the Fusion Farms facility in Mayagüez,” says CEO and co-founder Kendell Lang. “He will be doing a site visit, tour of the building, presentation, and award the solar energy grant to officially welcome Fusion Farms to Puerto Rico.” “Fusion Farms is proud to be at the forefront of what the Department of Economic Development is incentivizing for innovative agriculture solutions, specifically our hurricane-protected aquaponic vertical farm.”

Also in attendance will be the Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, who will be discussing their delivery of $9 million USD to the Programa de Hidroponicos (Program of Hydroponics) and Pymes Innovadoras (Innovative Small to Medium Enterprises) in an effort to advance the agriculture sector of Puerto Rico.

“Fusion Farms is excited to create jobs and work with the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Department of Agriculture. By working together, we can address the needs of the community and begin to establish food security for the island. The current incentives offered to all farmers are making it possible for agriculture to thrive,” says Lisa Jander, co-founder and Director of Operations of Fusion Farms. “We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to welcoming everyone to our new facility!”

To attend, please visit the Facebook Event page, click “Number of Spots”, and then “Reserve” to secure a spot at this ground-breaking ceremony.

About Fusion Farms

“Cultivando buena comida para buenas personas”

“Growing good food for good people”

Fusion Farms “Growing Puerto Rico”

Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island into hurricane-protected, vertical #aquaponic farms. Within this contained and controlled environment, vegetables, micro-greens, and herbs can be grown and supplied to the island, greatly reducing its dependence on imported fresh produce. Furthermore, Fusion Farms will be able to supply a fresh, #sustainable source of fish protein, since Tilapia are an essential component of aquaculture.

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

The Jones Act: Is the 100-Year-Old Shipping Law Contributing to the Ruin of Puerto Rico?

Jones Act

In 1920, Congress passed a law designed to encourage American prosperity after World War I. Unfortunately this act has, since, had the opposite effect and in few other places is this detrimental effect felt more profoundly than the unincorporated American territory and island nation of #PuertoRico.

The Jones Act as it was called – named after its sponsor, Senator Wesley Jones, from Washington State – has allegedly done immeasurable damage to Puerto Rico’s economy. If a figure were to be supplied, it would be in the region of $1.5 billion, according to an article by Caribbean Business.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the #JonesAct, its economic and environmental impact, and what’s currently been done to undo this outdated legislature.

What is the Jones Act and why is it Damaging Puerto Rico?

Almost 100 years ago, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 was passed by Congress and enacted into law. Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act is known as the Jones Act and it stated that all goods transported by water between ports in the United States and its territories (of which Puerto Rico is one), be carried on American-flagged ships that are American-built, American-owned, and are substantially crewed by American citizens.

The intention of this act was to encourage American trade, commerce, prosperity and naval prowess after World War I, which makes sense in theory. However, #theJonesAct has had several unintended consequences. Predominantly, the costs of transporting merchandise from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico in American built, flagged, owned, and run vessels are much higher. Additionally, Jones Act ships aren’t always available and are not always able to supply the goods/volume of goods Puerto Rico requires.

Overall, the Jones Act has:

  • Reduced waterborne coastwise trade (because it’s ships are so expensive)
  • Harmed the environment (because there is a preference for cheaper land freight, as well as trade originating from further afield, from foreign countries),
  • Measurably harmed the economy of Puerto Rico, not only because of steeper consumer prices but also because there aren’t always Jones Act vessels available to ship the goods Puerto Rico needs to import.

In spite of this, this outdated law remains in effect and continues to limit the ability to ship products by water throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

Steep price tag for Puerto Ricans

The Jones Act: a Legacy of Economic Ruin for Puerto Rico

Where other U.S. states have the option to transport produce by land, Puerto Rico, being an island, is forced to make use of Jones Act ships, should it wish to ship produce in from the mainland. According to two independent investigations, this has cost Puerto Rico $1.5 billion in higher prices for goods, as well as in its effect on competitiveness and lost jobs.

One study titled The Impact of the Jones Act on Puerto Rico was the first on the Jones Act following Hurricane Maria and was commissioned by a coalition of Puerto Rican government, hospitality, legal, and other institutions, including the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA in Spanish acronym), the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, the United Retailers Association, and the Puerto Rico Bar Association.

The report was compiled by Advantage Business Consulting (ABC), which was hired to investigate the true cost of transportation from both the mainland United States and the various international ports with which Puerto Rico frequently trades. ABC sent out a survey and of the companies contacted, a significant 70 percent responded, which demonstrates the keen interest of importers with this issue. The results of the survey were surprising, although not entirely unexpected.

Puerto Rico pays 151% more to transport goods from American ports than from foreign ports

What it found was that transporting containers from the United States costs, on average, 2.5 times or 151 percent more than transporting from foreign ports. For example: shipping a container from the U.S. East Coast to Puerto Rico costs $3,063 but shipping the same container to nearby Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic costs only $1,504; and to Kingston, Jamaica, $1,607. This is because they’re not using Jones Act ships. These figures were arrived at after corresponding adjustments for size of container and distance.

Using this data, ABC then calculated an impact equivalent to a Jones Act tax of 7.2 percent on food and beverages alone, which translates into an increase of $367 million in additional costs to the local economy. In other words, food and beverages on Puerto Rico cost $300 and $107 more respectively per person, thanks to the Jones Act.

Studies peg cost of Jones Act on Puerto Rico at $1.5 billion

Further Jones Act limitations

The second independent study performed was done by the New York firm, John Dunham & Associates (JDA). Having worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority of Philadelphia, and the Ports and Commerce Department of the City of New York, Chief economist John Dunham has extensive experience in the maritime transport sector.

Their report read: “All the calculations concluded that there was a significant impact. From this analysis, the firm chose and adapted the sources to make their own recommendation, concluding water transportation costs to Puerto Rico are $568.9 million higher, and prices are $1.1 billion higher than they would be without the Jones Act limitations.”

A further impact of this is on jobs for Puerto Ricans.

“If this is the case, Puerto Rico has 13,250 fewer jobs than it would have were there a free market for ocean freight,” says John Dunham. “Those jobs would pay residents $337.3 million in wages and would result from nearly $1.5 billion in increased economic activity.”

He also said that overall tax revenue would be $106.4 million more were the island to be exempt from the Jones Act’s provisions.

Environmental considerations

The Jones Act doesn’t only deliver a blow to business’, consumers’, and the economy’s pockets… owing to this legislation, Puerto Rican businesses have limited viable shipping options, which has compelled them to purchase more from foreign countries. In fact, many Puerto Rico companies opt to import goods from Canada rather than from the United States in order to avoid the cost premium from the Jones Act. Additionally, the island, imports almost no heavy cargo from the U.S. since ships are not available to carry it. And with goods having to cover longer distances by other modes of travel, particularly land transport, Puerto Rico’s #carbonfootprint is unavoidably large.

The road forward

“With the results of these two economic studies, we have enough data to demand that we be heard here as well as in the United States Congress,” says president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Kenneth Rivera. “The numbers are clear, the impact is devastating for the economy of our island and even more so being as vulnerable to natural disasters such a as #HurricaneMaria.”

José Salvatella, president of the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, has also said that Puerto Rico’s food security is directly tied to its “extreme dependence” on imports: “We had great difficulties in meeting our clients’ needs, to the point that one of our partners had to import food by plane at a cost 10 times higher than what it would have cost by sea due to the lack of service.”

And so, rather than achieving any of the goals set forth in 1920, the Jones Act has severely hampered the development of the merchant marine and shipbuilding industries in the United States. It’s time for change.

It is Fusion Farm’s mission to bring about change by re-establishing local agriculture (in hurricane-protected facilities) and reducing Puerto Rico’s dependence on food imports.

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

Some call us crazy

“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 challenges.

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 professional.

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.

Our “office” view

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.

Ataulfo mangos (Champagne mangos)

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 citizen. Currently, 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.

So, 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.

Aftermath of Hurricane Maria – September 2017

Puerto Rico has its share of challenges.

On 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.

But, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Over 90% of the food on the island is imported and the quality is subpar and lack nutrition due to the food miles.

“We didn’t move to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the island; we moved to Puerto Rico to help give the island an advantage.”

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:

For us, it was simple: Good food for good people.

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
  • Raised $40,000!

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.

There is no plan “B.”

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!

Aquaponics is the Answer

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 Rico.

Learn more about Fusion Farms’ mission to establish a food sovereign future for Puerto Rico.

The solution proposed by Fusion Farms

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 feet.

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 aquaponic farm?

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 (not soil).

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.

The benefits of aquaculture

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 world.

Requiring less land and conserving indigenous vegetation

Through carefully 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’ proposed facility.

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 using pesticides.

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 greatest demand.

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.

Overcoming Challenges

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.

Extensive scientific 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.

Become an investor!

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