Eduponics Institute USA
Sample Lesson
Sample Lesson: Controlled Environment Agriculture


This public sample lesson shows the standard parts of an Eduponics lesson. It consists of a study element, an activity element and a quiz.


Study Element

What is CEA?

Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences defines CEA as follows:

"Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is an advanced and intensive form of hydroponically-based agriculture where plants grow within a controlled environment to optimize horticultural practices. CEA is also known as indoor farming, urban farming and vertical farming.

"CEA techniques are not simpler than older systems for growing plants. Indeed, they demand sound knowledge of chemistry, horticulture, engineering, plant physiology, plant pathology, computers and entomology. A wide range of skills as well as a natural inclination to attend to details are necessary for a person to operate a successful CEA production in either a research or commercial setting." —

CEA requires substantial attention to control and management of air and water quality and sufficiency and careful observation or monitoring of the phases of growth of each crop. This may involved direct observation and/or remote sensing. At larger scales, robotics plays an increasing role, but small-scale operations typically substitute close attention to detail by human farmers.

Who is involved in CEA?

CEA includes farms as small as a shipping container or a bedroom or spare garage space all the way to large warehouses or greenhouses spanning thousands of square feet.

Practitioners range from homeowners seeking to supplementing family diets up to corporate supergardens.

Homeowners may sell any surplus to farmers markets or engage in community commerce. Larger firms usually sell their produce to conventional grocery distribution networks after the fashion of other corporate farming enterprises.

Where is CEA happening!

CEA is a solution to urban food access problems, so most CEA is in or near cities. Most human population growth in the 21st Century will be in cities, so this arrangement will promote nutrition and lower cost by shortening the time between harvest and consumption and favoring fresh food, which is almost invariably more nutritious than food grown and then transported over long distances or stored for long periods.

In 2022, CEA businesses and small production is increasing in and around urban areas all over the world. Both high and low-tech approaches are finding success, and growth and development seem assured for several decades.

How does CEA make money?

The economics of CEA can promote food production by both small- and large-scale operators. Small home-based or community-based farmers have the advantage of proximity to consumers and the adaptability to respond to changes in demand, especially in niche markets. Large corporate producers have the advantage of economies of scale and greater access to capital. It seems likely that a certain dynamic tension will persist between these two very different approaches.

At small scales, produce can be consumed by growers and neighbors through informal networks or it may be sold at farmers markets or to local grocers. This requires that the farmer also be a businessperson. At larger scales, economies of scale allow the growing and marketing activities to be assigned to specialists.

Major inputs (costs) include energy, labor and rent. General and administrative expenses fall into categories much like those in other sectors. Success and failure are distinguished by skill in entering and sustaining relationships with distributors and consumers. In many cases, the introduction of produce grown indoors requires an educational component.

Are there barriers to success?

Indoor farming is easy to start but hard to sustain. The rudiments of indoor gardening are crop selection that matches demand and diligent attention to detail in cultivation.

Finding a market and crops that meet the farmer's abilities is the key to success.

Traditional agribusiness is not always friendly to CEA, and it is not unknown for larger players to promote regulations that impede local production. Distribution channels may not be receptive to small producers. The farmer must seek and develop marketing approaches that improve acceptance.

Activity Element

In one page describe the aspects of indoor gardening that you think are beneficial and those that you think may make the success of an indoor farm difficult to achieve.
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