Imports are Killing Puerto Rico and Delivering Bad Food to its Citizens

Puerto Rico is forced to import 90% of its fresh produce because its family-run farms have been destroyed by frequent hurricanes. A further lack of aid and awareness has left the agricultural sector in ruins. Fusion Farms is standing behind Puerto Rican family farmers to help solve the food crisis.

Fusion Farms is standing behind Puerto Rican family farmers to help change their fate and that of the island’s communities. Puerto Rico is facing a #foodcrisis and is forced to import 90% of its fresh produce from foreign shores, paying exorbitant amounts of money for it. Furthermore, given the often thousands of miles this produce is required to cover (#foodmiles) and the amount of time it spends in Puerto Rican customs, its often already beginning to rot by the time it arrives on grocery store shelves.

Puerto Rico is currently importing upwards of 90% of its organic produce from the United States, which travels a minimum of 1,500 miles for weeks at a time.

Food that is expensive, sub-par in quality, freshness, and nutrition, and costly to the environment: how can bad food be a problem on a fertile, tropical island like #PuertoRico? The answer, in part, is the Atlantic Ocean hurricanes that have destroyed much of the island’s agriculture. With many of these being family-run farms (and with disaster aid from the mainland being in short supply), they have been unable to recover. Consequently, Puerto Rico relies on imports from foreign shores.

Discover the devastation of Hurricane Maria (September 2017) on Puerto Rico.

Impact on Food Quality

Shipping fresh produce from abroad poses a myriad of problems, not only for U.S. citizens on Puerto Rico but also for the global environment.

Food miles: Every mile that food has to travel to get from farm to plate exhausts #greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global environmental issues like #climatechange. Purchasing fresh produce from a local farmers market comes with a price tag of only a few food miles – certainly no more than 10 or 20. Purchasing “fresh” produce from a grocery store on Puerto Rico comes with a price tag of several thousands of food miles – often 1,000, 2,000, and more!

Freshness: Travelling from the United States, Mexico, Chile, and other countries from where Puerto Rico receives its imports takes time – days and weeks. Then, when it arrives in port, it’s forced to languish in customs for further days and weeks while the usually lengthy bureaucratic processes play out. By the time Puerto Ricans gain access to this “fresh” produce, it’s often already in the beginning stages of rotting.

Nutrition: Fruits and vegetables rapidly lose their nutritional value with time. Exposure to heat, light, and oxygen causes the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients to leach or degrade, which means that by the time this produce is available for purchase, it’s lost a substantial amount of nutrition.

Spinach can lose 90% of its vitamin C content within 24 hours of harvest, and 50% of its folate and carotenoids within a week. By the time Puerto Rico receives its imports of “fresh” fruit and vegetables, it’s often WEEKS old. How nutritious is the food you’re eating?

Cost: To add insult to injury, fresh produce is substantially more expensive on Puerto Rico because it has to be imported and because the island remains under an archaic shipping law (the #JonesAct) that decrees that only American-made, owned, captained, and crewed ships may serve the island.

It’s quite clear that imports are killing Puerto Rico and delivering bad food to the U.S. citizens living here. Thankfully, there is a solution….

Fusion Farms: Bringing Whole, Locally Grown Fresh Produce to Puerto Rico

#FusionFarms aims to establish the Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and relieve its reliance on imported fresh produce by building hurricane protected aquaponics farms on the island. Through this method of sustainable, closed environment aquaponics (CEA), this start-up farming initiative will establish a reliable, locally grown source of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish protein.

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. And in few places on Earth is such a system so desperately needed as it is on Puerto Rico.

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

Puerto Rico – Produce Safety Alliance

For the past 2 days, we have attended a certification program on Food Safety. The information is vital to the health of a farm as well as the consumers who benefit from what the farm produces.

Much of the emphasis is on traditional farming and all of the potential contamination events that can happen in the field and post harvest in spite of best efforts. The soil, the water to irrigate the vegetation and even the process to wash the produce can provide a perfect environment for pathogens to take hold. With the expanse of so many traditional farms along with the rate at which bacteria, viruses and pests can multiply, it is an ongoing battle that keeps farmers working around the clock.

The beauty of indoor vertical farming is that you can control the environment in a way that minimizes the risk and produces consistency and predictability in an otherwise random industry. The water can be tested, filtered, naturally enhanced with nutrients, and even cooled to ensure success; something that would be impossible on a 100-acre farm. In hydroponics and aquaponics, the roots are not grown in soil but in water where the nutrients flow evenly reaching every part of the root structure evenly on each and every plant.

Growing in soil is another matter. Vegetation planted in the soil is only as good as what the roots come in contact with. If there is nutrient depletion, mold spores or an underground pest, it will be extremely difficult to identify and prevent damage or crop loss.

Cultivation Agriculture Plantation Lettuce

Outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens have increased as risk factors in traditional farming and the need for food safety becoming more critical. Unfortunately, some of the efforts to eliminate the risks have caused more than their fair share of consequences, thanks to GMO’s and pesticides (which is a post for another time.)

That is precisely why hydroponics and aquaponics are becoming a focal point for the future of agriculture. Consumers are more educated and they are paying more attention to the “condition” their food is in when it hits their dinner plates.

People are starting to care where their food is coming from and the influence under which it is grown. Consumers are starting to embrace the concept that local food is better for you – whether traditionally grown or hydroponically. What is important to realize, however, is what the food was exposed to (locally or not) from seed to harvest and beyond.

Food safety is a big responsibility for all farmers. But to what end will farmers go to make sure their produce is safe? Best practices are not always the cheapest; indoor vertical farming is costly up front but the results and long-term benefits are far more consistent and nutritious than what can be achieved outdoors, in most cases. Outdoor organic farmers face far more stringent regulations and practices, not to mention the cost involved. It is not an easy business.

Investing in hydroponics and aquaponics is a progressive bet that Controlled Environment Agriculture will change the way we grow, distribute and eat meals that come from sustainable, healthy, chemical-free, non-GMO produce with a low carbon footprint. 

Now THAT’s a happy meal!

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

Bringing Fresh Food, #Sustainability , Jobs, and a Future to Puerto Rican’s Tables

Fusion Farms

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.

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