Danville hosts first ever Controlled Environment Agriculture Summit on the East Coast

The conference is designed to help advance the controlled environment agriculture industry

DANVILLE, Va. – A new kind of indoor farming that’s described as being more eco-friendly than traditional farming is gaining popularity across the country.

On Tuesday in Danville, industry leaders met for the first-ever Controlled Environment Agriculture Summit East.

The CEA Summits have historically only happened in Las Vegas until now.

This year is the first summit to take place on the East Coast at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.

“This really crystalized our vision of bringing our research and education program together to help move the CEA industry forward,” said Dr. Scott Lowman, the Vice President of Research at The Institute.

The conference is all about highlighting different types of controlled environment agriculture, from greenhouse farming to indoor vertical farming facilities, like the ones created by the institute with the support of Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Science.

“An exciting thing about this conference is it’s bringing people from all over the united states together to where we all get to share our ideas and goals and that always feeds your own ideas so that is really great,” said Dr. Michael Evans, Director of Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Tuesday’s keynote speaker was the Chief Technology Officer of AeroFarms, Roger Buelow.

AeroFarms just built the world’s largest indoor vertical farm in Pittsylvania County.

“This is matching and really exceeding our expectations for what we would see when we moved into Danville. What we’ve seen is Danville become a center, not just regionally but now nationally when it comes to controlled environment agriculture,” said Buelow.

Some experts said CEA is the future because it’s more eco-friendly than traditional farming.

The collaboration between the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences allows them to research a brighter, more sustainable future.

“Our research is often our baby. So we see it all the time and we get excited, so it’s like a lot of things. When you get to bring people to see what you’re doing and you see their excitement it kind of feeds your own excitement a lot so it’s a great opportunity,” said Evans.

The conference wraps up on Wednesday with keynote speaker Matthew Lohr, the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

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