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

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.

Global Aquaponics Market To Grow at a CAGR of +11% by 2023 

Aquaponics

The latest market research report forecast by Technavio indicates that the global #aquaponics market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11% between now and 2023, representing an incremental growth of $411 million. One of the key drivers for this market is the growing inclination towards controlled environment farming in the global community.

Technavio is a leading global technology research and advisory company that focuses on emerging market trends and provides insights to help businesses identify opportunities and develop effective strategies to optimize their market positions. Their report serves as a valuable indicator that #ControlledEnvironmentFarming techniques like aquaponics is the way of the future and, for those with the necessary foresight, a potentially lucrative investment opportunity.

What is Controlled Environment Agriculture?

Controlled environment farming or agriculture (#CEA) is the process of growing plants inside a greenhouse or a grow room, where all atmospheric and environmental variables, such as humidity, temperature, nutrients, pH levels, light, etc. can be controlled. Aquaponics is one such method of CEA that leverages the natural relationship between fish and plants to grow crops all year round, out of soil, and in the nutrient-rich wastewaters produced by the fish. 

How do aquaponic systems work? Learn more.

“As aquaponics does not require soil, the plants can be grown on rooftops, rocky surfaces, and other dry areas,” explains a senior analyst at Technavio for research on agricultural equipment.

What this means is that aquaponics farming can become a successful source of fresh, healthy, sustainable food (both plant and fish protein) in most environments and remote locations on Earth, provided there is a sufficient energy and water to feed the system.

The Way Forward

The benefits of CEA are that growing conditions can be optimized to produce the best possible harvest in any environment, often without the use of pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and other undesirable additives. It also optimizes the use of space – since crops can be grown in vertical rack systems, one on top of the other – and labor, water, energy, nutrients, and cost of operating, while still producing a bountiful harvest.

In essence, controlled environment farming is the way forward for a planet that is fast becoming over-populated and running out of the fertile lands and natural food resources needed. It’s a way we can cater for the increasing food demand without further damaging the environment. In fact, it reduces our current exploitation of land and resources, while also drastically reducing food miles, our carbon footprint, and pollution.

Global aquaponics market: About the Report

The global aquaponics market research report by Technavio provides an in-depth analysis of the prominent factors influencing the market, including drivers, opportunities, trends, and industry-specific challenges. The report provides market segmentation by application (aquaculture and hydroponics), technique (Deep Water Culture (DWC), Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), and media-filled bed), and by region (the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Asia-Pacific).

Acquire the global aquaponics market report here.

Another of the report’s significant findings was that the Americas held the largest share of the global aquaponics market in 2018, accounting for close to 53% share, followed by EMEA and APAC respectively. The region is expected to continue to dominate the market during the forecast period of 2018 to 2023. It also found that the market is highly fragmented with many players occupying the market share.

Fusion Farms Puerto Rico and Aquaponics

Technavio’s latest report on the global aquaponics market is particularly significant to the work start-up organization Fusion Farms is doing in #PuertoRico. Located in the beautiful Mayaguez district of Western Puerto Rico, Fusion Farms is making use of existing PRIDCO facilities to sustainably grow a year-round harvest of fresh, and 100% pesticide-free produce grown from organic seed that is high in local demand. The concrete facilities themselves are hurricane protected, which is essential on a Caribbean island that lost vast tracts of farmland to devastating hurricanes in the past few years and that continues to import upwards of 80% of its fresh produce as a result.

Learn more about the work Fusion Farms is doing.

Through its aquaponics venture, Fusion Farms aims to restore #FoodSovereignty to Puerto Rico and, should the model prove to be successful, will export the concept to similar nations across the globe; nations that are struggling to establish a local, #sustainable, and reliable harvest of fresh produce and fish protein due to environmental, political, and/or social problems.

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

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!

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

Costa Rica Runs on 100% #RenewableEnergy

The tropical paradise is not just a pretty face! It sets a prime example by running entirely on renewable energy for almost a year.

 White sand beaches, crystalline blue water, tangled jungles, dramatic volcanic and mountain landscapes, and stunning wildlife…Costa Rica has, for decades, been the destination of choice for honeymooners and holiday-makers from all over the world. But what this country has managed to achieve over the past 10 years has left some of the world’s most advanced nations truly in the dust. Sandwiched between the Central American countries of Panama (south) and Nicaragua (north), Costa Rica has, and is, making good on its commitment to running on clean, renewable energy.

The country is “not just a pretty face,” it would seem!

Powering homes, cities, and an economy with clean, renewable energy

As of November 2017, Costa Rica has been able to generate more than 99% of its energy needs using renewable resources like #solar, hydro, geothermal, wind, and biomass energy. In 2015, this popular travel destination generated 100% of its energy needs for 299 consecutive days; in 2016, for 271 days; and in 2017, for 300 days. Turning to wholly renewable sources and processes, Costa Rica was able to power its homes, cities, and economy without any fossil fuels, positioning this tiny tropical paradise leaps and bounds ahead of what are considered to be the world’s most technologically advanced nations.

Carlos Manuel Obregón, Executive President of the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity, explained that they were able to achieve this incredible feat through improvements to the grid and upgrading #cleanenergy power plants. This record goes hand-in-hand with the Costa Rican government’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2021, a deadline that was established over a decade ago.

Pirrís Dam under construction in 2011 by the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) Source: Ceab.ico – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

A developing nation shows developed nations “how it’s done”

What is particularly notable about this is that Costa Rica is considered to be a developing nation that does not have the same economic firepower as, for example, the United States or China. This sets an admirable example for developing nations around the globe and particularly its Caribbean neighbor, #PuertoRico, which has struggled with power outages and an unreliable power grid since Hurricane Maria slammed into its coast in September 2017.

It also goes to show that it doesn’t take a powerful economy and advanced technology to go “off the grid.” Costa Rica has prioritized its shift to renewable energy by investing taxpayers’ money on the necessary technology and infrastructure, while the world’s more developed and affluent countries have lagged behind.

A living, breathing example of smart investment

Costa Rica may be a small country with much lower power needs than, for example, the United States or China, but its government had the prescience to invest in renewable energy at a much earlier stage. Today, it is a living, breathing example of what is possible when a nation’s government employs foresight and planning and invests money in the right places. This should serve as an inspiration not only to the countless other small, developing nations of the Caribbean and around the world but also to the world’s “superpowers” who can’t seem to wean themselves off of non-renewable fossil fuels.

Now, as long as there are ocean waves, sunlight, wind, and geothermal energy (or one of those four), Costa Rica will be able to generate clean, renewable energy. And it’s this philosophy that Fusion Farms intends to apply to its operations in Puerto Rico.

About Fusion Farms

Fusion Farms aims to establish a reliable and protected source of fresh, 100% organic, pesticide-free, and non-GMO fruits and vegetables to the island of Puerto Rico. Source: www.Pixabay.com

Fusion Farms is an organization that strives to bring Controlled Environment Agriculture to the island of Puerto Rico. By establishing vertical #aquaponics farms inside hurricane protected, climate-controlled indoor facilities, powered mostly if not entirely by solar energy and wind turbines, Fusion Farms can establish a reliable source of fresh, healthy, 100% GMO, and pesticide-free fruits, vegetables, and fish for the island’s population.


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