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.

 

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

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

Open casting call issued for Trevor Mack’s first feature-length film

All Indigenous actors, preferably local Chilcotin people, are needed for Portraits From A Fire’s cast

New ferry to B.C.’s central coast sets sail, a year late and $20M over budget

Northern Sea Wolf will cost $76 million when it hits the waters in June

Trudeau touts economic record at Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver

The Prime Minister was in B.C. for much of this week

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the Okanagan

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Most Read