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

Fate of accused in Saanich couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Local grocery store steps up to help resident after Saanich jams her stand

Pepper’s Foods will start selling jams previously sold through roadside stand

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

Federal government commits $9.1 million toward UVic Indigenous Law building

Contribution supports Canada’s first Canada’s first Indigenous Law program

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Most Read