“Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is pleased to announce a new partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). For the 2015-2016 academic year, scientists and educators at Fairchild and NASA will administer plant experiments for middle and high school students participating in The Fairchild Challenge, an award-winning environmental science competition based in Miami, to determine which edible plants might be suitable for growth in microgravity aboard the International Space Station’s plant growth facility, Veggie. As the project develops, it may help to provide a more sustainable food supply for future long-term missions, perhaps even those en route to Mars.

“Since ancient times, people have been moving plants and adapting them to new environments,” said Dr. Carl Lewis, Fairchild’s Director. “It’s thrilling to think that plants grown in South Florida classrooms may someday help sustain human life in space, on Mars, and beyond.”

The purpose of the experiments designed by The Fairchild Challenge students is to expand food options and increase plant diversity by testing multiple edible plants that meet NASA’s criteria for size and edibility. Using equipment that mimics the environmental conditions aboard the International Space Station, students will test factors that may influence plant growth, flavor, and nutrition. NASA will use students’ data to determine which plants they should begin growing in space on the Veggie facility.”

(Excerpt pulled from an official communication courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden)