Circular farming in space: week 35

What does a trip to Mars have to do with agriculture on our planet Earth? Most of the farmer participants of the Stoppelhaene Symposium on Thursday August 30th probably asked themselves the same question. Angelo Vermeulen, space travel researcher, biologist and artist, had been invited to share his vieuws and experiences on this topic. In 2013 Angelo was the commander of a simulated trip to Mars with five other colleagues. The purpose was to study how astronauts could feed themselves and remain happy and healthy during the four month period of simulated travel. Although there was enough nutrition on board, the experiment was more concerned about the psychological effects of extensively eating high-processed food.  During long(er) periods of space travel it is essential that food can be grown and consumed on board of a space vessel. Because of the lack of raw materials, restricted indoor space and desire to minimize waste production, a circular growing system has to be put into place.
Raw materials are essentiel to our livelihood but are limited. Farmers need raw materials and many of these raw materials enter the foodchain through agriculture.  By illustrating the use of raw materials and a circular agricultural economy, Angelo Vermeulen and the following speaker, Martin Scholten from the University of Wageningen, wanted to encourage the Dutch farmers to think further than their farm borders. During the past decades Dutch farmers have been bounded by a never increasing number of rules and regulations, have had to cope with a never ending workload and then they hear that it their manner of farming has to change overnight. Not an easy task. Some farmers have already implemented this new form of farming without too much trouble but the most have to discover their own pathway.  The farmers in the symposium appeared to be prepared to take the first steps. Soul searching, reexamining the relationship with the environment, developing new/other uses of output flows and exploring ways of working together could help lead to the development of circular farming on Earth.
And the link with Edible Wood? Trees are felled, turned into edible logs, eaten up and /or end up as compost. Circular.

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