Where No Seed Has Gone Before

What’s with all this space agriculture? First, scientists concluded that the Martian soil might be able to support vegetables like asparagus and turnips. Now Canada’s aiming to be the first country to plant something on the moon. No, really: As Mike Dixon, director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph, said (and this is an actual quote), “That’s a Canadian space first that we can actually aspire to.” He then added, “Let’s face it, the next worse place after a snowbank in Canada to do controlled-environment plant production has got to be the moon.”

Ah, Canadians. Name something they can’t be self-deprecating about.

The prototype that Dixon’s team is building is “a five-foot-square sealed chamber made of stainless steel, Teflon and glass. A set of gloves built into the greenhouse would allow the crew to plant seeds and harvest plants without risking contamination.” Problem is, the greenhouse is so small a single astronaut would need more than 10 to produce just one day’s worth of food. Also, space farming: apparently not so promising for grazing. “[I]f you’re going to Mars, you’re a vegetarian,” says Dixon.

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