5 VF lessons for surviving extreme weather

5 VF lessons for surviving extreme weather

PUERTO RICO- Hurricanes can be a leading cause of concern for farmers working in coastal areas where severe weather is common.

Editor’s Note: This article contains information derived from interviews Agritecture conducted with Fusion Farms and Grupo Vesan, two indoor farms that have experienced hurricanes in Puerto Rico.

These storms can interrupt entire seasons of growing, causing significant crop loss and even preventing farmers from planting their next season’s harvest. As storms increase in intensity and cause greater damage and disruption, farmers not only face threats to their livelihoods, but food supply chains risk shortages, which can exacerbate social and health inequities. 

As conventional agricultural practices become increasingly untenable for a number of reasons (including its well-established contribution to climate change), controlled environment agriculture is often cited as a reliable solution for extreme weather regions as it offers a level of protection and control that open-air, soil-based farms do not. 

Agritecture spoke with Fusion Farms and Grupo Vesan, both located in Puerto Rico, to better understand how this application of CEA can work best and what steps to take to prepare indoor farms for major storms. 

Fusion Farms, located in Mayagüez on Puerto Rico’s west coast, is operated by husband and wife team, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander. After opening in 2016, Fusion Farms faced their first big storm when Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017. They also made it through Tropical Storm Laura in 2020. Through both of these storms, Fusion Farms experienced little to no interruption to their operation.

Grupo Vesan, founded in 2015 by Francisco Santana, is located in Ponce on the southern side of the island. It endured both Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Fiona in 2022. After Maria, Grupo Vesan resumed operations within 10 days. Having made some adjustments following Maria, Grupo Vesan opened the immediate next day after Hurricane Fiona. 

Lessons Learned from Building CEA Farms in Hurricane-Prone Regions

  1. Weatherproof Your Building


Eexterior of Fusion Farms in Mayagüez, PR. Credit: Fusion Farms.

Lang of Fusion Farms shares that they intentionally selected their farm’s site (a concrete structure constructed in 1961), for its “ great bones”, proven by the fact that it has withstood every hurricane since it was built. 

Continue reading.

 

Header Photo: The interior of Grupo Vesan, a CEA facility in Ponce, PR. Credit: Grupo Vesan.

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