Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares to Attend Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of 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 the ribbon cutting ceremony 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.

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The ribbon cutting ceremony is 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 ribbon cutting ceremony 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 ribbon cutting ceremony!”

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

Puerto Rico is OPEN for Green Business!

Lisa and I were able to attend the “Puerto Rico is Open For Green Business” Summit at the San Juan Convention Center today, so it was exciting to hear all the opportunities Puerto Rico has to turn around the devastation from Hurricane Maria to an opportunity to set a new course for the Island.

Here are some pictures of our time at the event:

This is me with HON. RICARDO ROSSELLÓ NEVARES the Governor of Puerto Rico:

This is me with ON. TANIA VÁZQUEZ RIVERA the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources

This is me with RODRICK MILLER the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Puerto Rico.

This is Lisa with Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares.

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.

The freshwater Tilapia is a popular choice of fish for aquaponics farms. They are also good for eating and so they’re a valuable source of protein. Source: www.Pixabay.com

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

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 profitably, too. This technology ranges from field machinery, moisture sensors, and gadgets to a rather surprising suite of smart phone 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 bio-fuels 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 channelled back into the grid to power neighbouring 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.