Peter Webb is Educating our Future Food Workforce by Looking to Mars

Peter Webb and his MARSfarm co-founder and team are boldly seeking to improve our food situation by upgrading the skills and employment prospects of thousands of students each year so that they can play a part in food systems where more is grown and less is wasted. He joins us here and at our May 4 event to lead a discussion about having our next generation ready to work with the innovative food and ag tech that’s coming.

What are you doing in your work?

MARSfarm's goal is to provide agricultural educators working in Career and Technical Education (CTE) departments with equipment for giving students hands-on experience with agriscience experimentation. We design, manufacture, and distribute plant growth chambers with remote sensing abilities through our line of MARSfarm Mini products. We also provide customized growth chambers for non-profit citizen science programs and independent STEM makerspaces.

What prepared you for what you're doing?

I am extremely passionate about the sustainability of our food system and believe that the way in which we educate that workforce is vital to the future on this planet - and the next.

What's an indicator that a food system (or space habitat) is working for the people in it?

Awareness about the health of their plants and access to information to troubleshoot issues if they occur.

What is the most interesting work going on right now in your area?

Genetic research related to dwarf plants and brassica leafy greens. Phenotypic research related to abiotic stressors, particularly spectrums of light generated by LEDs.

What innovation outside your direct area is most interesting to you?

The produce supply chain - literally, everything about it.

What problem related to Space for Food most needs to be addressed?

Showing experts in the agriculture industry the value of researching plant growth in space and the intangible benefits it can have related to talent.

Who is doing the most interesting work in your area (other than you, of course!)?

Amy Padolf of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, who founded Growing Beyond Earth.Dr. Kristine Callis-Duehl, Dr. Noah Fahlgren, and Dr. Malia Gehan of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center who all combine technology, education, and plant science in their research.

What's your favorite food, space, or ag memory?

Harvesting the first pepper I grew inside my St. Louis apartment.

What inspires or recharges you?

Watching students get excited about plants.

Learn more about Peter and MARSfarm (and how you can be part of the development of future food systems, too) at our May 4 event Space for Food - From Vision to Reality, where he’s co-leading a session on Educating for Future Food Systems. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @getMARSfarm.