The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of attorney Rebecca Feliciano, the need to find a new source of income for her family in Puerto Rico’s ailing economic climate in 2011 would become the company that, in just three months from opening, harvested enough fresh mushrooms to cater to the demands of the entire island. The farm’s name is Setas de Puerto Rico, which translates to “mushrooms of Puerto Rico” and is located in the Cuyón neighborhood of Aibonita.
Using a loan of over $330,000 from the Economic Development Bank, Rebecca Feliciano started her mushroom company and farm with the goal of establishing a more lucrative revenue stream. Within the first few months of her operation, she was able to bring on 24 employees and supply a generous harvest of fresh mushrooms to Puerto Rico, making her farm the first of its kind – and, to date, the only of its kind – on the island.
On a visit to Setas de Puerto Rico in 2012, shortly after the company was established, then Governor Luis G. Fortuño had this to say about Rebecca and her pioneering efforts in an unfortunate economic climate:
“These innovative facilities and the extraordinary work of the team at Setas de Puerto Rico Inc. are proof of the ability we all have to reinvent ourselves and seize opportunities to meet the demand for products; in this case, fresh harvested mushrooms. Rebecca took the difficulties she faced and turned them into an opportunity. Her success shows that, with effort, courage, and sacrifice, we can achieve our goals.”
Contributing to Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty
Setas de Puerto Rico is the first Puerto Rican company dedicated to the large-scale production of mushrooms in the country. Of every dollar spent on their products, seventy cents remain in Puerto Rico, contributing enormously to the island’s economic well-being. By developing local production, the farm positively impacts the food supply chain, from distributors and wholesalers to retailers, restaurants, and, most importantly, Puerto Ricans.
Setas de Puerto Rico differentiates itself from its imported counterparts by offering mushrooms that are locally grown, much fresher and more nutritious when they hit shelves, are of a better quality and taste, involve less handling (and therefore stress), and are available at competitive prices. Furthermore, being locally grown, this fresh produce is available in constant and reliable supply on the island, which is important for the businesses (like restaurants and hotels) whose menus feature mushrooms.
Setas de Puerto Rico is an important example of the innovation and pioneering efforts of Puerto Ricans to establish a reliable and sustainable, locally grown food system. For more information on Setas de Puerto Rico, please check out their website at https://setasdepuertorico.com. Alternatively, contact them at +1 (787) 294-6006.
What is the Puerto Rico Food Sovereignty Series about?
This blog series by Fusion Farms focuses on the individuals, couples, families, and friends who are actively contributing to Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and security by investing their time, money, and passion into local agriculture. From coffee plantations and mushroom farms to home-grown organic vegetables and hydroponically grown herbs, each blog tells the story of the unique contributions, trials, and tribulations of a people who are proudly Puerto Rican and who strive towards a better future for this beautiful island nation.
Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island into hurricane-protected, vertical #aquaponic farms. Within this contained and controlled environment, vegetables, micro-greens, and herbs can be grown and supplied to the island, greatly reducing its dependence on imported fresh produce. Furthermore, Fusion Farms will be able to supply a fresh, #sustainable source of fish protein, since Tilapia are an essential component of aquaculture.