Vancouver Island produce company is sending alfalfa sprouts to outer space

Eat More Sprouts to be part of an International Space Station experiment

Many companies claim their products are “out of this world” but few can say so literally.

Eat More Sprouts will soon be one of the few.

The Vancouver Island business is about to have an other-worldly experience.

This summer, when the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 13 to the International Space Station (ISS) launches, an experiment designed by five École Ballenas (Parksville) students will be aboard.

The experiment is titled Investigating the Growth Patterns of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) Sprouts in Microgravity: a Potential Nourishment for Future Manned Spaceflight. The sprouts heading to space are from Eat More Sprouts in Courtenay.

Carmen Wakeling, co-owner of the Courtenay produce company Eat More Sprouts, is… ahem… over the moon about the opportunity.

“I am really excited,” she said. “I have been told by scientists that sprouts are like the fruit fly of the vegetable world from a research perspective. They grow fast and experiments can be repeated several times a week where other crops might be repeated several times a year.”

The SSEP is an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), located in Maryland, USA, and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, which works internationally.

The American-based Student Space Flight Program (SSFP) invited School District 69 (Qualicum) to participate in the initiative. A call-out for experiments from students in Grade 5 through 12 in SD 69 was made in September of 2018.

Wakeling said she has been in on the project from the beginning.

“I first found out about this project in early September when the awesome teacher Mr. Carl Savage got in touch with me,” said Wakeling. “I then had a follow-up meeting with one of the students later in the month where I showed him our facility and talked to him about what it takes to grow a good sprout.”

The school district whittled down all the entries to three finalists, and sent them to the NCESSE.

From the submissions, the SSEP review board chose Investigating the Growth Patterns of Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa) Sprouts in Microgravity: a Potential Nourishment for Future Manned Spaceflight to be conducted on the International Space Station.

“We’re very fortunate to be part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP),” said SD 69 assistant superintendent, Gillian Wilson. “The experience is preparing today’s learners for tomorrow’s world. It has been an unprecedented applied learning opportunity that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math. Thanks to over $18,000 of funding, made possible by the Karen and Fred Green Fund (held at Vancouver Foundation) and Magellan Aerospace, over 400 students across the school district learned about the microgravity environment of space and created science experiment proposals.”

Wakeling is looking forward to hearing the results of the experiment.

“This project will give all of us more insight into how a plant will manage the stresses of the universe,” she said. “It may also give insights into what foods could realistically be grown with little daylight and water in a very controlled but potentially harsh environment.”

Does she have any predictions as to how her alfalfa will grow, in outer space?

“I think they may get a little curly,” she said. “Gravity causes the plants to orient upward but if there is less consistency in that area things could get a little wavy.

“I can only imagine things might not be as straight-forward in space as they are on earth.”

One could say this is, indeed, rocket science.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The five Ballenas School students behind the experiment: Investigating the Growth Patterns of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) Sprouts in Microgravity: a Potential Nourishment for Future Manned Spaceflight.

Just Posted

Clearwater mayor unimpressed with Forest Minister’s inaction on local tenure transfer

Mayor Merlin Blackwell says he’s ready to lead delegation to Victoria

Editor, The Times

Local vet valued for compassion and professionalism

Editor, The Times

Re: The World Thru the Eyes of the Rambling Man

Last weekend on the ice

This week’s featured player is #6 Zoey Fehr from the Clearwater atom Icehawks

District councillor trying to bring Men’s Sheds to Clearwater

Men’s Shed program gives members the opportunity to socialize and take on community projects

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Most Read