Growing marijuana to help coral reefs envisioned by Holyoke entrepreneurs (photos)
HOLYOKE — The idea came to Gerard Ramos a year ago: grow and sell marijuana to raise money for his passion, restoring the coral reefs off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Reefer helping the reefs.
“That’s still my main goal. That’s my passion. That’s my number one passion,” Ramos said on his front porch here Thursday.
Ramos, partner Gabriela Alcantara and a third, as yet undisclosed partner have formed Holyoke Green Growers LLC with an eye to seeking investors and city and state approvals to grow and sell recreational pot.
The economy’s twists have prompted the entrepreneur in Ramos to change his business in the past few years. He had drawn headlines for his Marine Reef Habitat business in which he grew coral in saltwater tanks in his garage at 275 Sargeant St. for over a decade.
He sold the coral he grew to aquarium-supply businesses and individual customers, and he used some of the revenue to return to Puerto Rico once a year to scuba dive and replant coral.
Coral reefs nurture and sustain marine life. Among factors blamed for depletion of coral are human mining of coral, fishing, coastal development, pollution and tourism, as well as global warming.
Such depletion has ruined reefs off the coast of Pozuelo, the fishing village in Puerto Rico where Ramos grew up.
But business slowed and it’s been a few years since Ramos could afford to return to the waters off Puerto Rico and restore coral, he said.
Plus, he suffered an injury over a year ago that prompted him to look at marijuana differently, he said.
“The injury was I broke my tailbone. Skydiving. The pain was so bad, so I used cannabis,” Ramos said.
He still has the saltwater tanks and