This week we want to highlight a fascinating discussion between Bart Womack, our CEO, and Dr. Gary Stutte, our newly appointed Director of Plant Research at Eden Grow Systems. Dr. Stutte has spent years researching controlled environment agriculture, focusing on systems for food production for NASA’s missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The very same challenges faced by astronauts trying to grow a sustainable food supply in harsh environments, with limited resources, are being faced here on Earth, as our global distribution system is facing unprecedented disruptions due to climate, the pandemic, and other forces.
Bart discusses the need to continue unraveling the deeper secrets of “this elegant symphony of how life interacts with itself” and how we must continue to learn more about growing food to overcome these challenges. Dr. Stutte stated his ultimate goal is to “find that potential that’s in the genetics of that plant, and give it the greatest [ability] to fully express it in a way that is going to serve myself and my family and my community?”
Dr. Stutte discussed the need to create more distributed, decentralized local food production systems. Major retailers such as Walmart, Costco and Amazon are moving into this area, driven by their own dependency on a supply chain that has stumbled or even failed in recent months, exposing them to unacceptable business risk and product shortages. Bart and Dr. Stutte also cover the population growth expected over the next 30 years, and the lack of sufficient farmland to deliver the increased food supply this population will require. Dr. Stutte points out the tremendous value, beyond the profit motive of major agribusiness players, that comes from shifting our focus away from a fragile supply chain and towards more resilient systems based on micro-farms, community gardens, school programs, urban vertical farms, and a generally decentralized, distributed network of farming and food production. He highlights the role that technologies like the Eden Grow Tower and other controlled environment farming systems will play in this new reality. According to Dr. Stutte, getting there will be “a human challenge, not a technological challenge.”