Held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in October 2022, the debut of the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East brought more than 200 producers, educators, scientists, engineers, developers, extension specialists and other industry members together. Jointly hosted by Indoor Ag-Con and the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center (a joint project between the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech and IALR), the event provided a variety of lectures, exhibits and networking opportunities.  

“This event really crystalized our vision of bringing our research and education program together to help move the CEA industry forward,” said Dr. Scott Lowman, Co-Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center and Vice President, Applied Research, IALR. 

The event included keynotes from Roger Buelow, Chief Technology Officer of AeroFarms, and Matthew Lohr, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “It comes down to collaboration – with the whole Commonwealth working together. We’ve made progress, and I’m even more excited about what the future of farming looks like,” Lohr said.  

Attendees also completed a variety of educational tracks, focused in areas like CEA skills, business tips and regulation, and teaching, extension, and workforce development. Tabletop exhibits were available for attendees throughout the event. Finally, those who were interested experienced group tours of the CEA Innovation Center, getting an upfront view of the hydroponic and soilless systems/production systems and facilities.  

CEA Summit East 

A woman in a lab coat talks to a group about controlled environment agriculture