Here is the script from a soon-to-be-published interview done by a major publication:
QUESTION: Mr. Lang, what is the concept behind Fusion Farms?
ANSWER: Fusion Farms is a hurricane-protected, aquaponic vertical farm that is proving out a piece of the puzzle for a solution to Food Sovereignty for the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.
QUESTION: What does that mean day-to-day at Fusion Farms?
ANSWER: What that means is that we are proving out new urban farming inside of a hurricane-protected building. We have a vertical rack structure in soil-less growing conditions, and provide nutrient-rich hyper-local fruits and vegetables to the local market. That means our produce does not have to be shipped fifteen hundred miles from the US or other places, which is currently the case. Right now, 97% of the food that is consumed on the island of Puerto Rico is shipped in from other places around the world, predominantly the US. There are fifteen hundred food miles that the food has to travel. By the time it gets to Puerto Rico the nutrients are basically gone and it has been sitting on the docks for two weeks and gone through containers and been subjected to pesticides, preservatives and all kinds of issues.
QUESTION: Is the farming part well-known and viable, and is the added value you are able to have a hurricane-protected building?
ANSWER: The value-add that we are creating is, in fact, the hurricane-protected piece of the puzzle. We are re-purposing a dormant asset of the Puerto Rico government, which are hundreds of buildings and 25 million square feet of buildings throughout Puerto Rico, many of which are vacant or abandoned. We are taking that asset and converting it into revenue-generating, job-creating, property-tax generating solutions where the technology of urban farming is not the risk in the equation. Aquaponics is being done thousands of times around the world and the science behind aquaponics has been around for four thousand years. We are not necessarily reinventing the wheel of aquaponics and vertical farming, which has been successfully done elsewhere. What we are unique in is putting it into a hurricane-protected solution, specifically to the circumstances in Puerto Rico.
QUESTION: Would you explain that solution?
ANSWER: As an example, our pilot project in Mayaguez, is an eleven thousand five hundred square foot, concrete warehouse building on 1.47 acres. That building was constructed in 1961 and has survived all of the hurricanes from George to Urma, to Maria, and is standing and intact virtually untouched by all of those catastrophic events. It has survived Hurricane Maria which was in recent history the strongest climatic event recorded by anybody in our generation. That building as an example, we are converting into an indoor urban aquaponic farm with racks, grow troughs, feed trays, where we are putting LED grow lights and we have a completely controlled environment, agricultural solution, inside that building. We will be producing a high volume of leafy green vegetables. In this case, we going to be growing micro greens, mint and basil and we will be producing it where we are going to be harvesting on a 21-28 day growth cycle.
Because of the urban farming techniques, we are able to increase the yield so we are nine to twelve times what a traditional farm would generate in the same square footage. We are much more efficient and we use 10% or less of the water than traditional farming. We have completely organic standards that we are growing to, which means we have no herbicides, no pesticides, and no chemicals. That is because aquaponically, the water that is feeding the nutrients to the plant, comes from Tilapia that are grown in fish tanks, and when they “do their business” it takes ammonia in the water and it is converted naturally through bacteria processes, into nitrates and nitrites, and it is those nutrients that are absorbed by plants, then the plants clean the water and it is circulated back to the fish. It is a controlled environment agricultural or CEA structure.
QUESTION: Why is local food production important and isn’t there more to consider than freshness?
ANSWER: We support and believe in hyper-local produce production, but not for the reasons or arguments most people make. Our rational has to do with the actual nutrient value of produce and what "Food Miles" do the real nutritional value of food when it spends weeks in a truck or container and is moved halfway around the globe. Nutritional science indicates eating not only local, but immediately, is one of the healthiest ways to go. Here's an interesting fact most people don't know; the highest nutrient value in spinach is Vitamin C, but 90% of the Vitamin C in spinach is GONE within 24 hours of harvest! That means if you're not eating spinach the day of harvest, you're not getting the real nutrient value that your body craves. University of California studies shows that vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C, for instance, within a week. More generally, most produce loses 30 percent of nutrients three days after harvest, so eating "fresh" hyper-local means you actually have to eat it in what we like to say as a "Seeds To Tables" approach which implies that you have the ability to eat what is freshly harvested without dealing with long-distance transportation, preservatives or shelf-life.
Our philosophy of "Seeds To Tables" means that you purchase or harvest greens when you plan to eat them and eat them while they’re still fresh and the leaves have not wilted.
The three natural destroyers of vitamins in fruits and vegetables are heat, light, and oxygen. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables start to break down after harvest. Even after picking, fruits and vegetables remain alive. It's that very quality, however, that contributes to spoilage and loss of nutrients. After picking, fruits and vegetables continue to breathe. This process, called respiration, breaks down stored organic materials, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and leads to loss of food value, flavor and nutrients. Produce will lose heat from this respiration as well as moisture, which is one of the ways nutrients are lost. The longer produce has to breathe before it is consumed, the less likely it is to retain nutrients. The Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment notes that food transported long distances is not likely to be as nutritious as food grown and consumed locally. Another potential source of nutrient loss has to do with whether produce was ripe at the time it was picked. Climacteric crops, such as tomatoes, can be picked before full ripeness. The fruit may attain full color after picking, but it will not attain the highest nutrient levels. According to the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, total vitamin C has been shown to be higher when the tomato is picked ripe from the vine.
The Center for Health and the Global Environment recommends choosing produce that is as fresh as possible. If you can't grow your own, look for local farms or growers. The center also notes that buying locally increases the chances of nutritional diversity and decreases the amount of handling, since local produce is commonly picked by hand rather than machine. Minimal handling means less chance of contamination, which can increase the rate of decay.
So, the ultimate "right answer" is to find growers as close to where you're consuming produce as possible.
QUESTION: What is it about the building that has shielded it from hurricanes?
ANSWER: The beauty of construction in Puerto Rico for industrial and commercial buildings is that they are designed to withstand hurricanes, so if you think about San Juan, which is a population of three million people, high-rise buildings, hotels and residences, the majority of the construction standards for those types of buildings, is concrete, so it is reinforced, steel rebar with concrete construction that is designed to withstand 300 mph winds. The fastest recorded winds for hurricane Maria were something like 270 mph. The nature of the construction was designed to withstand those particular events because the Caribbean every year is prone hurricanes. That recurring climatic event is anticipated and designed into the building design codes and zoning requirements. The buildings during Hurricane Maria were predominantly left intact. There were wood-stick structures, tin roofs, vegetation or greenhouses which were devastated by Hurricane Maria, but the majority of the catastrophic damage was in vegetation and structures that were not designed to withstand hurricane-force winds.
QUESTION: It has always been possible? Why has it never been done?
ANSWER: The beauty is that these buildings have been proven to be hurricane-resistant. We do not say hurricane-proof because nothing is hurricane-proof. However, these buildings have survived all of those catastrophic events. The technology exists, it is just nobody has ever put this particular use inside these buildings. Now Puerto Rico, because of tax incentives that expired in the pharmaceutical industries over the last decades, has an economic problem that caused these buildings to become vacant, though in that vacancy they became deferred maintenance or vandalism, they have just been sitting empty so there is tremendous glut of abandoned buildings all over the island for economic reasons. What we have done is create and take advantage of the attention that the hurricane had brought to the island. Here is how we solve that problem, we take a dormant or unused asset of the Puerto Rico government and convert it into a high revenue-generating job-creating business model and we can now populate hundreds of buildings with this solution that solves not only the real estate problem for the government of Puerto Rico but it also solves the food sovereignty problem and it creates jobs in the process.
When Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevarez was elected, they put together their top ten initiatives to fix the economic engine that is broken in Puerto Rico and lots of bad press about the debt structure and the corruption and all the challenges that Puerto Rico has had. The Rosselló administration is doing an excellent job of taking this catastrophic event of Hurricane Maria and turning it into an opportunity to use the resources that have been made available to Puerto Rico in the form of federal dollars for reconstruction. They have said they are not going to just rebuild the way it has been done for hundreds of years, they are going to use the funds and the opportunity to recast the vision of Puerto Rico to be a world leader and to be the stepping-off point to connect the Americas because of its geographic position and its bilingual structure and heritage of being a US territory. Yet with such a strong connection to the Latino community through Central and South America, it is a natural gathering point for being this new thoroughfare for business throughout the Americas.
There are huge incentives they have created and huge plans that they have. The number one initiative for job creation and solving this economic issue is agricultural which right now is less than 1% of the GDP of Puerto Rico. That means that the 97% of the food is imported and Puerto Rico is a Net Importer of foodstuffs. When we are able to shift that to just 80% of produce being grown on the island that is $3.5 billion economic turnaround and that becomes an economic driver that creates 88 thousand jobs on the island as well as using all this 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.
QUESTION: When did you recognize that this was possible?
ANSWER: I first started coming into Puerto Rico in 2016. I had been researching and looking at aquaponics as the farming solution for the world’s food crisis. If you look at the global food supply and population, there is a disconnect that any number of worldwide organizations and research organizations have documented that there is not enough land in the traditional agricultural structure to provide the food supply for what will soon be a nine billion headcount for population. Food and water become the new gold, and in that structure, you have to look at doing things differently. Agriculture and traditional farming have not changed in a hundred years. If you look at the growth in mega farming, it is soil based and adding preservatives and chemicals that is actually bleaching the soil. There is an excellent book called The Empty Harvest, which talks about the problems of mega farming. I have been researching for a long time on how we can create urban farming solutions that keep food production local which is how it used to be and how it still remains predominantly for example in Italy today.
If you go to Italy and go to restaurants there, you are eating naturally organically grown foods that are coming out of the ground in the season that they have been planted, they are not mega farms, they do not have chemicals or preservatives, they are eating what comes out of the ground naturally, so you do not have any GMO food. You do not have gluten intolerance problems in their society as we do in the US, for the simple reason that on the GMO side, it has not been to our population’s favor. My research has motivated me to look at the possible solutions for urban farming, and the vertical reuse of real estate was a natural progression of that. My wife and I actually relocated and became residents of Puerto Rico in 2018, and that was after having come here since 2016 and seeing that we actually could implement a solution that did not have all of these pieces of the puzzle. For example, we looked at Costa Rica as a potential place to relocate to but Costa Rica does not have hurricanes, they have tremendous farming solutions on a local basis. They are food sovereign. They have solved their agricultural issues, they do not need our help.
Puerto Rico needs tons of help, it does not have a solution for food sovereignty. It is critical that this island nation become an exporter of foods, not an importer of foods. By becoming an exporter of foods, the implicit understanding is that you then become self-sufficient and you use enough food that you consume it yourselves, then you have excess and you become an exporter. That has been a long way around saying that I have been looking at this for a long time but it was really Hurricane Maria that was the capstone to the problem and it really became that cornerstone discussion that got global attention where we now have a lot of eyes on this project. There is funding available for something that is very expensive because there is a one-time upfront cost that is extraordinary compared to traditional farming. When we prove this out from a revenue generation standpoint, it will more than justify and make investors very happy with the return on investment for this type of new urban farming. We have to prove it out and that is the purpose of us coming to Puerto Rico.
QUESTION: Where are you in the process of Fusion Farms today and what is your timetable going forward?
ANSWER: We have completed our business plan. We have put together our advisory board and have a world-class team of advisors, both technical and agricultural. We have strategic partnerships with the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, as well as have a private public partnership with the University of Arizona and their CEA or Controlled Environment Agriculture team. We have the partnership with Caribe Fisheries, which is a thirty-year operator of an aquaculture system here on the island that is going to be providing us with tilapia. We have two brothers who were operating an aquaponics business on the island in a greenhouse before Hurricane Maria, but that was completely destroyed during Hurricane Maria and they had to abandon that because they had no financial way to restore it. We brought them on our team. We have both an advisory team, advisory board and management team in place. We have also completed all of our filings so we are a corporation in good standing. We have been registered as a bonafide Agricultural Business, with the Department of Agricultural in Puerto Rico. We have our SAM.gov certification, so we are qualified federal contractor. What that means is we have been 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. We have a high probability of achieving a grant for our solar installation. We have been awarded $250,000 in grant money from PRIDCO as part of our overall incentive program to make all this work.
QUESTION: What does Fusion Farms need?
ANSWER: We are seeking IMPACT Investors who are interested in clean, green, renewable energy and agriculture investments. We want investors who are "philanthropically" oriented to "Do Well By Doing Good" and they should be sensitive to environmentally sustainable food and water solutions.
QUESTION: How can prospective Investors get involved?
ANSWER: Your OPPORTUNITY is; an investment of just $100 to a maximum of $100,000 to own a piece of Fusion Farms that is changing the food security of Puerto Rico. The CPA-reviewed financial projections (part of the Online Offering Memorandum) show a tremendous potential ROI on a very conservative basis. Fusion Farms is also a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund Investment, as well as a Qualified Small Business Stock, both of which are substantial benefits to investors who want to shelter or reduce their capital gains tax.
A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR PUERTO RICO INVESTMENT: Will you help us build a community of environmentally sensitive investors for Fusion Farms Puerto Rico? We have developed proprietary Aquaponic systems which will change Puerto Rico’s dependency on imported foodstuffs forever.
In order to invest, you need to go directly to https://www.startengine.com/fusionfarms and register there. You can then download our Offering Memorandum which is our Form C which has been filed with the SEC. You can complete your purchase online using a credit card, ACH, wire transfer and they also accept Bitcoin and Ethereum as forms of payment.
We look forward to welcoming you as our newest Fusion Farms IMPACT Investor, so please make sure you make your purchase before we CLOSE our Offering on July 3, 2019!
Thanks again for considering our Opportunity and for your support!