Recap: Space for Food - From Vision to Reality

Following up from a great event on April 13, Space for Food brought together Subject Matter Experts and an ecosystem of innovators, supporters, and educators around the future of food wherever humans live and go on Earth or beyond.

In 9 sessions with dozens of experts from over a dozen organizations and institutions shared their work in areas like:

  • Controlled environment agriculture - facilities experts, and breeding perspectives on getting the most from CEA

  • Food science - turning emerging sustainable ingredients into ready-to-eat food products consumers love

  • Microbial opportunities - our smallest life forms might have the most to offer in solving some of our food and environmental issues

  • Technological development - how decentralization, cryptocurrencies, and AI can play a part in making the data that informs a food system more trusted and useful for all

Highlights included:

  • Thoughtstarter sessions to inspire innovation and collaboration, with lightning talks by experts in food, space, and ag to inspire innovators around 4 themes:

A Roadmap for Food Systems on Earth and In Space - What’s the state of the art and what’s coming next in truly integrated food production for Earth and space? What are the best use cases in it being used for research that can lead to production?

Simpler Organisms for Food and Biomaterials - Yeast, bacteria, funghi, and algae can produce far more than plants and production animals and can increasingly have nutrition and function engineered in. They can produce starches, proteins, lipids, and more for food and biomaterials while helping regulate the environment and deal with waste from other systems. Join a discussion for creators of microbial growing systems.

What’s Next in CEA - Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is evolving and scaling rapidly - what’s happening in CEA and how are startups, researchers, and industry partners readying themselves to play a part?

  • See the overall session recording here - and see these lightning talk excerpts by session co-leaders:

  • Djavid Abraham of Agritecture on accelerating the growth of the CEA industry as well as working with companies to make their agriculture systems equitable and sustainable

  • Dan Northrup of Benson Hill on breeding more nutrients and food experience into the seeds of foods we grow

  • John Purcell of on on using vertical farming and genetics to create superior seeds to sustain humans on earth and beyond

Educating for Future Food Systems - Traditional agricultural education programs are not adequately preparing students for future careers in agriscience and STEM students do not see agriculture as an interesting career. Space provides the unique opportunity for students to explore what it takes to grow plants successfully.

  • See the overall session recording here - and see these lightning talk excerpts by session co-leaders:

  • Amy Padolf, Director of Education at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and creator of Growing Beyond Earth discussing how high schoolers are providing crucial data to NASA on growing quality produce for long haul missions in spaces

  • Regina Smart - FFA Ag Ambassador in Louisiana, GBE Participant on changing the perspective of agriculture education in higher education

  • Lauren Milord of DreamUp on bringing food in space from way out there into the hands of students today

Integrated Data for Future Food Systems - The data to inform future food systems is going to come from millions of silos small and large, from IoT networks in fields or bioreactors, to startups creating new value streams, to the systems operated by parts of the supply chain, and event remote sensing from drones and satellites networks that can put all of it into context. How can we make the tech work together for the people in ag/food systems?

We Grew It: Now What? - Just because it can be grown in a CEA system, fermentor or bioreactor doesn’t mean it will be consumed if we can’t turn it into an ingredient or product tailored for preparation and consumption. Join a discussion with food experts on how alternative proteins and other foodtech is turning into sustainable products with shelf life. Whether cultured meat or microbial foods, how do we turn them into food products people will love and trust?

  • Attendees also joined in a town hall to share what they wanted Space for Food to do to support emerging innovators in cellular ag, microbial ag, controlled environment growing, and all the enabling tech to make it all work together. With opening remarks by the Deep Space Food Challenge's Dane Godel about the NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Deep Space Challenge and the innovation and opportunity emerging from it as final team applications come in, we also had great input from Adam Janczuk of IFF Nourish, Brandon Day of the Yield Lab Foundation, and a surprise drop-in from Clélia Cothier, Challenge-Prize Fellow for the Canadian Space Agency.

  • The event closed with details on how high school or college (2 year, tech, and 4 year welcome) students can form or join a Space for Food student hackathon team, collaborating with students and experts from all over the world - Space for Food's next activity.


With some of the top requests for future Space for Food activities being to support and continue to bring together innovators working at the intersection of ag, food, and space innovation, we hope to see you soon at upcoming activities!