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

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

2019 Food Trends that Producers NEED to Pay Attention to…

There’s a food revolution going on and producers that don’t keep up with the times will find their share of the market slipping between their fingers.

With the relentless passage of time, advances in technology, and spread of environmental and #health awareness come a myriad of ever-shifting trends that affect the foods and produce we are prepared to put in our grocery baskets. These trends range from packaging, which must be environmentally friendly or it won’t be supported, to a growing preference for local producers and suppliers – the fewer the “food miles”, the better. What these trends tend to have in common are the betterment of the environment and the increasing support of local farmers.

Here’s what we expect to see in 2019….

Don’t forget the “Baby Boomers”

2019 Food trend: as Baby Boomers continue to embrace technology and educate themselves in the options available to them, they too will become savvier in their food choices.

Baby Boomers might be approaching their 70’s in age, but their increasing grasp of technology is empowering them to make more intelligent food choices, as is the case with the younger generations. Given that they constitute 25% of the population (and have the most buying power of all the generations), they matter enormously as a target market.

Innovations in packaging

Molded pulp uses recycled newsprint to form package components. Here, researchers are molding packaging from straw. Source: Peggy Greb, Public Domain. 

2019 Food trend: we expect to see the continued development of innovative, environmentally friendly packaging options that ensure fresher produce.

Today’s consumer demands food that is fresh, ripe, and unprocessed but also delivered in packaging that is made from environmentally friendly, biodegradable materials. In order for grocery stores to keep shoppers happy, they need to stock produce that has a longer shelf life and that has a lesser environmental impact.

Local shopping the “in” thing

2019 Food trend: more and more consumers are favoring locally grown, fresh produce over imported, pre-packaged, processed goods.

The fewer the miles food has to travel to get on the plate, the better. It means less transport-related pollution and fresher produce. This is a concept referred to as #foodmiles – why pay for vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles and waited several days in customs, when you can buy something that was harvested from the ground that very morning from a local farmer’s market? Within grocery stores and supermarkets, it is also preferable to see that the fresh produce is locally sourced.

If distributors turn their attention to local producers, they won’t only help to stimulate the local economy, but will also contribute enormously to a healthier environment.

Traceable and transparent

2019 Food trend: the demand for organic products peaked in 2018. Now, the focus shifts to accommodate traceability and transparency, which essentially helps consumers understand where their food comes from, how it was grown/treated, and how many miles it has had to travel, etc.

There are proliferating numbers of software programs and apps that allow consumers to trace the origins of their food right down to the plot of land it was grown on and the chemicals that were used to treat it during its growth cycle. Some apps help the public determine which producers operate sustainably, while others lead them to the best local alternatives in an effort to reduce food miles.

We are moving into an era in which the consumer wants to see more than just the product of #agriculture – they also want to see the story behind it and do their bit to contribute by making the most sustainable, environmentally friendly food choices possible.

The public holds the agricultural sector accountable

2019 Food trend: the agricultural sector needs to prioritize transparency, sustainability, and humane food practices or else suffer the penalties.

Last year, the emphasis was on getting food produce from farm to market in the most environmentally friendly way possible. This year, the pressure is on the agricultural sector to further reduce their carbon footprint and #greenhouse gas emissions, while improving the quality and freshness of their produce. They are also expected to be as humane as possible in the processing of animal products, with buzzwords being “free-range”, “grass-fed”, etc.

Food producers who don’t adhere to these pressures risk more than just a loss of consumer support; they might also face penalties and fines in the future.

A better, healthier food future

Locally sourced produce and farmers markets have become increasingly popular. Source: www.Pixabay.com

2019’s Food trends, which will hopefully extend into the coming decade, aren’t just reserved for Millennials and hipsters. Technology, food apps, and the vast and limitless reach of the Internet have empowered consumers across multiple generations to make more intelligent food choices. These are the everyday decisions that will help to clean up the environment by reducing food miles and eliminating plastic packaging; hold the agricultural sector accountable by demanding greater sustainability, humane practices, and transparency; limiting food wastage; and empowering local farmers, communities, and economies.

Fusion Farms in Puerto Rico aims to incorporate these food trends and practices in our indoor, hurricane-protected #aquaponics agricultural model, not only here in the beautiful Mayagüez district on the western portion of the island, but anywhere and everywhere our model is adopted.


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 

How a Holiday in #PuertoRico Became a Calling to Change its Future

Seedling

The Story of Fusion Farms

Three years ago, a couple from San Diego, California, went on holiday to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. They indulged in the island’s delicious local foods, went for walks on its spectacular beaches, and enjoyed cocktails against the island’s brilliant backdrop of turquoise water, orange sunsets, and emerald green forests. In other words, they did what most visitors to Puerto Rico do. However, for entrepreneur and real estate expert, Kendell Lang and his wife and business partner Lisa Jander, a seed was planted and the idea for a new future was born…

Struck by Beauty and Potential

Puerto Rico is a stunning, tropical island paradise in the Caribbean Sea. Source: www.Pixabay.com

Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, Kendell Lang has a long-standing passion for and interest in the life sciences. It was on their first month-long visit to Puerto Rico that Kendell and Lisa were struck by the island’s abundant natural resources, beauty, and population of willing, hard-working people. The beginnings of a dream were born: the dream to start a farm. And yet, they were surprised to learn that close to 80% of the produce consumed on the island was imported. Additionally, the strict import regulations mean that the “fresh” produce that is brought in is extremely poor quality once it finally reaches the island.

Then, in September 2017, Category 5 Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Hurricane Maria and Recovery

Hurricanes are large-scale weather systems that cause widespread damage with their intense wind speeds, torrential rainfall, and associated severe weather. Source: www.Pixabay.com 

Hurricane Maria claimed over 5,000 lives and left almost every farm on the island utterly devastated, and most homes without power. This increased Puerto Rico’s reliance on imported produce – a problem that persists to this day.

The couple made their return to Puerto Rico a few months after the hurricane only to discover a scene that appeared as though the entire island had been run through some sadistic cosmic blender. Enormous 100-year-old trees had been stripped bare and snapped like twigs, power lines and poles were down everywhere, and the roofs had been ripped off houses.

Kendell and Lisa met with locals, workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and contractors from all over the United States to listen to their stories. The accounts of those who had experienced the hurricane were not what they expected. In spite of the damage, carnage, and loss, there were silver linings where most could see only thunderclouds.

“We were humbled and blessed by the openness, positive outlook and outpouring of community support the Puerto Ricans displayed,” says Lisa. “Grateful that their homes made of concrete remained intact despite the missing roofs and personal possessions destroyed or washed away by the flood – the resilience was astounding.”

This solidified the awakening sense of destiny that Kendell and Lisa felt on the island. Conversations between them shifted to questions about how they could be a part of the long-term recovery of Puerto Rico and how they could contribute to its future. The answer lay in farming…but, not the traditional kind.

Fusion Farms is born

The idea to build hurricane-protected indoor, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) aquaponics farms became the fleshed-out concept behind a new organization and enterprise: Fusion Farms. Here, safe from the weather and under optimal growing conditions, a local team could work to harvest fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even #tilapia, all of which is 100% fresh, pesticide-free, all-natural, non-GMO, affordable, and reliable in supply.

Cherry tomatoes grown in a Controlled Environment Agriculture facility. Source: www.Pixabay.com

“We understood the need for fresh, nutrient-rich food; we recognized that the dilapidated condition of the power grid would be an on-going battle; we knew there would be a language barrier to some degree…but our desire to melt into the wonderful culture and change the narrative for Puerto Rico was stronger than any misgivings we might have had early on,” says Kendell.

Make an Impact: Invest

Hurricane-protected, climate controlled, bio-secure, pesticide-free, fully indoor, mostly off-grid, sustainable, and scalable… these are the buzzwords used by Kendell to describe the new venture he and Lisa are currently launching. And they’ve already made good progress: today, the couple has successfully and permanently moved to Puerto Rico and are hard at work at the task of creating an indoor #aquaponics farm. They’ve also received approval to purchase one of the many abandoned hurricane protected warehouses on the island, and have put together a fully rendered plan of their intended operation.

“This island has so much to give and we would like to give back. Our mission is to create jobs for Puerto Ricans – students, farmers, and other hard-working individuals – and our goal is to help turn the tide of reliance on food imports and traditional farming that is always exposed to the elements,” says Lisa.


You too can become a part of Puerto Rico’s recovery and story.

Help Fusion Farms to turn the tide against poverty and disaster by becoming an investor in this new vision. For more information go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Impact #Investing for a Greener Future

A new investment trend is connecting investors with opportunities that fund positive impact enterprises and give big returns

Trying to make a positive difference in the world is not typically considered a lucrative vocation. It’s not exactly an endowment of character to capitalize upon the ill fortunes of a suffering cause, group of people, or the environment. How would such an organization justify pocketing its profit?

Over the course of the past decade, there has been a growing #investment trend that is benefitting the fortunes of the cause and the people who spend their money on it. It’s called impact investing.

“Impact investing means putting your money behind companies that generate positive environmental and social outcomes, while also trying to earn meaningful financial returns,” explains Lily Trager of Morgan Stanley, Wealth Management’s Director of Impact Investing.

Making a Difference; Making Money

So, instead of investing your money in traditional funds and stocks, you invest dollars in organizations and companies that affect social and environmental change. In other words, impact investing is the intersection of profit and purpose.

This isn’t a niche concept or budding idea. According to the report “Sustainable Signals: Asset Owners Embrace Sustainability” by Morgan Stanley: “Sustainable investing has gone from a niche investment idea to attracting enough capital to start having an impact on global challenges at a meaningful scale. Globally, more than $22.8 trillion are invested sustainably, representing more than $1 in every $4 under professional management.”

Finding the Right Impact Investment

Installing solar panels to establish a source of clean, renewable energy. Source: www.Pixabay.com

Investors looking to turn a profit while also making a difference should be on the lookout for strong organizations that stand out as authorities in social or environmental fields. These are the companies that innovate products and solutions that are geared at solving problems that range from climate change and lack of access to clean water to food shortages and disease.

A prime example of such an investment avenue is Fusion Farms, an organization in the Mayagüez district of Western #PuertoRico that is focused on building indoor, hurricane protected Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) aquaponics farms. These farms, which combine hydroponics and aquaculture to produce a reliable source of fresh, non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and fish, would be a boon to the island and its people, which are only just beginning to recover from the historic and disastrous Hurricane Maria in 2017.

In addition to building such farms, which would secure Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and create hundreds of jobs for local farmworkers, Fusion Farms aims to establish a sustainable, scalable, and repeatable model and educational training program that can be applied elsewhere in similar locations with vulnerable populations and struggling economies.

Hydroponic farms grow leafy green vegetables like lettuce. Source: www.Pixabay.com

What this means for the investor is that growth isn’t capped at the completion of the first CEA facility in Puerto Rico, but rather has virtually limitless potential considering the applications of this model in stricken, impoverished villages, towns, islands, and nations across the globe.

“Impact investing has grown tremendously in large part because investors aren’t being asked to accept subpar returns,” says Lily Trager. “Plus, positive environmental and social outcomes are increasingly more measurable.”

Investing Dollars for Good

#Impactinvesting is an important channel through which organizations striving to make a difference can acquire the necessary funding, while also providing investors with big returns. We all like the idea of a green future – green is not only the color of money, but also a healthy environment – and one way we can all play our part is to invest in companies that generate positive environmental and social outcomes.


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

Hurricane Protected Farming in #PuertoRico

In a region routinely slammed by severe tropical storms, an island on its knees searches for a permanent solution to its food crisis

Located in the equatorial region within the Caribbean Sea, the island of Puerto Rico is a lush, tropical paradise with plentiful, naturally occurring food sources. But with this rich natural heritage, abundant fresh water, and a population of seasoned farmers ready and willing to work, why does agriculture suffer so terribly here?

Why does Puerto Rico import 90% of its fresh produce needs in order to feed its population?

One answer: hurricane damage.

Puerto Rico lies on a collision course with the hurricanes and tropical cyclones that, every June through to November, spin off the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, leaving the island in a constant state of rehabilitation.

Then, in September 2017, a hurricane of mammoth intensity made landfall on the tiny Caribbean island, laying total and utter waste to hectare upon hectare of farmlands and orchards, while also killing 5,000 people and leaving the island without power for months in some places. Hurricane Maria was the worst natural disaster on record to affect Puerto Rico, which, to this day, struggles to get back on its feet. The effects it had on the island’s food sovereignty – on its ability to produce the necessary fresh produce to feed its people – was near fatal.

Storm damage in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Source: www.Gizmodo.com

Hurricane Maria was a Category 5 storm with wind speeds in excess of 175 miles per hour. Yet, even less intense storms rain down extensive destruction: torrential downpours, storm surge flooding, lightning strikes, high wind speeds, and more. With time, investment, and respite, the island of Puerto Rico could rebuild itself, its farmlands, and its ailing economy… but recovery from the past does not ensure security for the future.

In a tropical region in which hurricanes are a certainty, a permanent solution is required.

But how can you protect farms from hurricanes?

Aquaponics: Innovative Farming Technique

On Puerto Rico, there are hundreds of abandoned, government-owned concrete warehouses, some of which were built in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Their sturdy build has ensured their survival, even against the ravages of Category 5 storms. What this spells for the team at Fusion Farms are two things:

(1) The potential indoor space to establish a greenhouse for growing fresh produce, and

(2) One that is hurricane protected and sheltered from damaging winds and excessive rainfall.

Not even Hurricane Maria could fell these concrete warehouses and so they are a proven, hurricane protected venue for indoor farming.

The logic doesn’t end there, though. A more potent and productive farming technique called aquaponics combines hydroponics (indoor, climate-controlled agriculture) and aquaculture (fish farming) to set up a looped system that produces both fresh fruits and vegetables and a source of lean protein: fish.

tilapia

Tilapia: the freshwater fish that will be used in Fusion Farm’s aquaponic facility. Source: www.Pixabay.com

The solution proposed by Fusion Farms sees the hydroponics portion of the farm housed within the concrete warehouse, where it cannot be affected by high winds or excessive rainfall, while the aquaponics portion – the fish farm – will be built underground in circular ponds with a high margin to insure against flooding. Both systems will be carefully controlled by the team at Fusion Farms so that they are sheltered from nature’s fury, as well as outside influences to protect the lifecycle of the farm.

Additionally, the energy required to run the farm will be sourced from solar panels and supplemented by wind turbines, so in the event that the power is cut, the farm can remain productive.

Re-establishing Puerto Rico’s Food Sovereignty

On an island that is located on a well-worn hurricane path, it is essential to start building farms that can withstand severe storms. It is essential if Puerto Rico is to produce a reliable, fresh, non-GMO, and 100% pesticide-free source of fruits, vegetables, and protein for its people. Fusion Farms is one of the first organizations to step forward and not only propose this solution but attempt to source the funding to convert a series of abandoned warehouses into hurricane protected controlled aquaponics environments.

The goal is to re-establish Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and ensure that its population is fed and its farmers have work, even in the event of another natural disaster.


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