Skip to main content

Tag: CEA Summit East

CEA Summit East 2024 Poster Competition Call For Entries

CEA Summit East 2024 is now accepting abstracts for the Graduate Student Research Poster Competition to be held as part of the October 1-2, 2024, edition at the Institute For Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) Conference Center in Danville, Virginia.

CEA Summit East is focused on bringing together the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry and academia. Co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con, the leading global gathering of the vertical farming | CEA sector, and the Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center, a joint project between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center, the summit aims to foster collaboration and innovation in the field of CEA.

“Returning for its second year as part of the CEA Summit East, the poster competition is designed to provide graduate students with an opportunity to showcase their high-quality CEA-related research. It also aims to facilitate networking between students and industry professionals,” says Kaylee South, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of CEA at Virginia Tech. “The CEA Summit East Partners are excited to invite graduate students to submit their abstracts for consideration.”

Competition Eligibility and Guidelines:

  • The competition is open to currently enrolled or recently graduated (Spring 2024 or later) graduate students, including M.S., Ph.D., and professional students.
  • Entrants must present posters on original CEA-related research they have conducted.
  • Abstract submissions must be received by August 16, 2024, for consideration.
  • All posters will be judged and scored at the conference, with winners announced during the breakfast gathering/keynote session on day 2, October 2, 2024.

For more information on abstract submission and competition guidelines, please visit or contact Dr. Kaylee South at or +1.434.766.6628


Building on the success of its 2023 edition, which attracted attendees from 33 US states, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden, the 3rd Annual CEA Summit East is set to unite professionals once again from academia, business, and technology within the CEA industry. Attendees include greenhouse growers, urban agriculture operations, vertical farms, outdoor growers seeking hybrid growing opportunities, educators, scientists, extension personnel and agents, suppliers, engineers, tech specialists, architects/developers, government officials, and other industry members. With a focus on facilitating meaningful connections and knowledge exchange, the summit will feature keynote presentations, panel discussions, networking/ breakout sessions, and tabletop exhibits highlighting the latest advancements in CEA technology and practices. Attendees can also look forward to research facility tours, providing firsthand insights into cutting-edge research and development initiatives. For more information, visit


Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the largest trade show and conference for vertical farming | greenhouse |controlled environment agriculture. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis | hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. For more information, visit


The Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center is a joint project between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center. By developing strategic partnerships with both industry and academia, the goal of the Innovation Center is to conduct research and educational programming to develop, promote and advance the CEA sector in the U.S. and internationally. For more information, visit

Powering the Future of Agriculture: Exploring the Potential of Digital Electricity in CEA

Q&A With  James Eaves, Indoor Agriculture Director, Voltserver

In an era where innovation and sustainability are paramount in the agricultural industry, one technology is disrupting the way we think about electrical power distribution. VoltServer, the pioneer of Digital Electricity™, is leading the charge with its groundbreaking approach to powering CEA. Indoor Ag-Con talked with VoltServer’s Indoor Agriculture Director James Eaves ahead of September’s CEA Summit East where he will be leading a panel discussion exploring the potential of Class 4 Power—a new power classification specifically tailored for Digital Electricity – in the realm of CEA.  Read on as he demystifies Digital Electricity,  discusses its advantages over traditional power distribution methods, explores real-world implementations, and shares insights into VoltServer’s future plans for advancing this revolutionary technology in the agricultural sector.

Can you explain in simple terms what Digital Electricity (Class 4 Power) is and how it differs from traditional electrical distribution systems?

VoltserverDigital Electricity is a new approach to electrical power distribution that uses advanced digital technology. It is based on the concept of transmitting power as high voltage Direct Current (DC) rather than traditional Alternating Current (AC).The main difference between Digital Electricity and traditional electricity is how they are installed and used. Traditional high voltage DC or Alternating Current (AC) requires expensive and time-consuming wiring methods and safety equipment like licensed labor, inspections, permits, and specific devices such as breakers, ground fault protection, and step-down transformers.

On the other hand, Digital Electricity eliminates the need for all those things. It transforms your electrical system from a complicated infrastructure controlled by outside contractors or facility managers into something more like an IT appliance controlled by IT teams. This means that the installation and management of Digital Electricity are simpler and more user-friendly. Digital Electricity has caused a significant disruption in the market.

It has been so groundbreaking that the National Electric Code, which sets safety standards for electrical systems, has introduced a new power classification called “Class 4 Power” specifically for Digital Electricity. This shows how much of an impact Digital Electricity has had on the industry, as it represents the first new power classification in 70 years.

What specific advantages does Digital Electricity offer to CEA operators compared with traditional power distribution methods?

The most common use case is the significant reduction in cost, complexity, and time required to distribute high voltage electricity to horticulture LEDs, fans, pumps, sensors, and irrigation solenoids. For example, Digital Electricity eliminates over 75% of the components required to distribute power to LED, including LED drivers in grow spaces. Moreover, it can be installed in around 1/10th the time.

Digital Electricity also provides growers with unprecedented control and monitoring capabilities. Unlike traditional systems, with Digital Electricity, growers can control, monitor, and schedule each individual LED without installing a second set of wires and equipment. The grower uses software to group LEDs into zones, which can be easily changed as needed. If there is an issue with an LED, the grower receives an instant notification. Other features include the ability to audit power usage for each zone and automatically respond to electricity utilities’ demand response signals, which can create a significant new revenue source for the company.

Can you share a real-world example of how VoltsServer’s Digital Electricity has been implemented in a vertical farm or greenhouse, and the resulting benefits observed by the operator?

Hardee FreshVoltserver, a large CEA company, has successfully implemented Digital Electricity in their operations. They have utilized this innovative power distribution system to power the LEDs in the world’s largest certified organic vertical farm. Recently, they embarked on constructing a new facility in Georgia, spanning approximately 350,000 square feet and capable of producing an impressive 15 million heads of lettuce annually. Both of their facilities rely heavily on adjacent solar farms for power generation.

The implementation of a complex and expensive electrical infrastructure would have posed significant challenges. However, thanks to the plug-and-play nature of Digital Electricity, Hardee Fresh was able to swiftly install, maintain, and operate their entire electrical system using their own workforce. This not only saved them a substantial amount of time but also significantly reduced the need for extensive equipment typically required in such projects. This advantage is particularly valuable in the current environment, where there are long lead times for contractors and electrical components like panels and step-down transformers.

In addition to streamlining the deployment process and reducing capital expenditures, Hardee Fresh places great importance on energy efficiency. Digital Electricity has enabled them to enhance energy efficiency through better system design. Moreover, it has provided them with highly precise control and monitoring capabilities over their LEDs, allowing for further cost reduction while maintaining optimal performance.

As the first company to patent and commercialize this innovative technology, what are Voltserver’s plans for future advancements in Digital Electricity and its applications in the agricultural sector?

We are deeply committed to the CEA industry and aim to contribute by making it more financially and environmentally sustainable. Our goal is to power everything in a vertical farm or greenhouse, making the construction and maintenance aspects much easier. After getting CAPEX under control, the promise of CEA will lie in implementing software and connected devices to decrease the cost of producing high-quality food. However, many equipment companies keep their systems closed, hindering innovation in the industry. The intelligence of Digital Electricity presents a unique opportunity to develop powerful software applications, many that we can’t even imagine today. We have intentionally designed our system to be open, allowing anyone to use our open API to develop their own software tools. Currently, we are collaborating with large energy and technology partners to create new software tools that provide growers with even more control over their growing environments and energy usage.

At the upcoming CEA Summit East, you will be leading a panel discussion on Class 4 Power. Can you give our readers a sneak preview of some of the areas you plan to cover during this session?

During the CEA Summit East panel discussion, our goal is to provide the audience with a brief introduction to Class 4 Power, its benefits for the CEA industry, and the potential for Class 4 to become the new standard in CEA design and construction. The panel will include leaders from the electrical construction, LED, and vertical farming industries.

Learn more about Voltserver and the many benefits of Class 4 power by attending CEA Summit East September 19-20, 2023 at the Institute for Advance Learning & Research Conference Center.  Early Bird registration rates are still available!

You can also learn more about Voltserver by visiting the company website here.

Where Agriculture Meets Wellness: Q&A With Seed2Source Founder Jennifer Waxman

Jennifer Waxman The Villages GrownAfter successfully guiding The Villages Grown™ to its current position as a vertically integrated, 84-acre total footprint, controlled environment agriculture (CEA), year-round, produce growing operation in Central Florida,  Jennifer Waxman is heading back to her roots.  That is, she’s turning her focus back to Seed2Source, the firm she launched in 2005 driven by her “agriculture meets wellness” passion and vision.

Indoor Ag-Con is thrilled to have Jennifer on our Advisory Board, as a speaker at the upcoming CEA Summit East in Virginia next week , and Indoor Ag-Con in Las Vegas in February 2023.  We had the chance to catch up with this busy CEA industry leader to learn more about her vision and plans in this month’s Q&A

For the last 6 years, you’ve overseen the impressive growth and development of The Villages Grown.  Why was the timing right to leave that post to focus on Seed2Source?

We were given the honor and trust to carry out our vision and model for The Villages Grown. This included the strategic direction, design, construction, and operation of a first-of-kind CEA in the South. We backed this with educational programming from both B2C and B2B. We built a community-based brand yet grew enough product for expansion throughout Florida. We worked with beautiful people in a beautiful community.

However, it is no secret that CEA is only scratching the surface in the US. We knew we wanted to be at the head of the ride with its growth. Several players in the CEA sector were showing intrigue and interest in our model. I believe this was rooted in our ability to build a strong brand, educate, all the while supporting other local farmers along the way.

I’ve learned a lot since entering the hydroponics sector in 2000. This is when I started to conceive this model of holistic wellness and was based on my global travels, thus observing the ‘Future of Food’. There is a lot to share from a rather long career in this sector. I have experienced successes, failures, and have observed overall industry needs and voids. This is the exciting part and I wanted back in!

Share more about Seed2Source, your Sustainable Ag Business Consulting Firm focusing on controlled environment agriculture

Seed2Source launched in 2016 but was really an evolution of my first ‘Agriculture Meets Wellness’ firm which was launched in 2005. Seed2Source is a first-of-kind, Sustainable Agriculture & Wellness, consulting firm headquartered in Florida but serving the US (and beyond). The firm focuses on strategic CEA projects rooted in sustainable agricultural, food-as-medicine, and local food system models.

Our CEA experience includes Vertical Farming, Controlled Greenhouse, Aeroponic and Hydroponic Methodologies, Strategy, Branding, Distribution, Education, Innovation, and Science. We are a one-stop-shop and are surrounded by the best and the brightest in all operational units required for true success. We bring in different consultants as the projects deem fit. This allows us to take on both small and large projects as the market dictates.

At the upcoming CEA Summit, you’ll be speaking on 2 panels, including one titled “Building The Future of CEA”.  If there is one message you hope to get across on that panel discussion what is it?

The CEA industry is still at its infancy and shall evolve with continuous iterations and innovations. Typically, when most people think of CEA, they only think of High-Tech, AI, Automation, etc. and forget about the State of Agriculture in general. I hope people start to realize that CEA is ‘part’ of a solution and not the ‘only’ solution. Also, I hope that people don’t forget about the actual agriculturists and horticulturists that are the true heroes in creating a sustainable, profitable, CEA operation. This seems to be lost with many of the current players in CEA.

You’ll also be speaking at the 2023 edition of Indoor Ag-Con on a great session idea you brought to us, “Building A CEA Alliance:  The Power of Grower Partnerships.” Can you share a little more about this idea?

As it stands, there is little-to-no diversity in US CEA. Everyone is clamoring for funding, market share, and innovations in technology. I believe they are missing a huge opportunity for collaborations, strategic partnerships, and supply chain solutions. We must work together not only for larger supply chain opportunities in both retail and wholesale, but to truly exchange best business practices and the like. We should also be collaborating to keep domestic supply in our own backyard and with prominence. There is enough business to be had for all!

What’s next for you and the team at Seed2Source?  

Our vertically integrated CEA Model, of which we pride ourselves on, was clearly not an overnight success. We are still on this journey. This will continue to be the core of our mission and vision. The Vision – ‘Intersecting Agriculture with Wellness as a Food-As-Medicine Approach’ — will continue to drive our passion and expansion.

We feel strongly that this is the model for success and ultimate operational sustainability. We are being courted by some amazing operations – both new and old players in the CEA space – which has been rewarding. We will continue to build our CEA and overall Domestic Farm Partnerships and Educational Programming.

Learn more about Jennifer and her team at 

AeroFarms CTO Roger Buelow To Kick Off CEA Summit East With Opening Morning Keynote Address

DANVILLE, VA (SEPTEMBER 19, 2022) AeroFarms Chief Technology Officer Roger Buelow will lead the opening morning keynote address for the inaugural edition of the CEA Summit East, October 25-26, 2022.  Indoor Ag-Con and the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Innovation Center– a joint project of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech, and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) – have partnered to co-host the new event at the IALR Institute Conference Center in Danville, VA.

This announcement follows on the heels of the grand opening of AeroFarms Danville, the world’s largest aeroponic smart farm, capable of growing more than 3 million pounds of fresh leafy greens annually to meet increased consumer demand.

During his address on Tuesday morning, October 25, 2022 at 8:45 am, Buelow will share more about the new Danville farm and how it utilizes AeroFarms proprietary indoor vertical farming technology to grow more plants at the highest productivity per square foot with the least amount of natural resources – continuing AeroFarms legacy of continuous improvement and innovation.  In addition to the environmental benefits, Buelow will discuss benefits the farm brings to the Southern Virginia region ranging from job creation and year-round access to safe, fresh greens to hands-free farming with end-to-end automation from seeding to growing to harvest to packing.

In addition, he will also share updates on some of the exciting plant research and workforce development projects he and his team are working on with Virginia Tech, the IALR and the CEA Innovation Center.

As CTO, Roger Buelow leads the innovation and capabilities team for AeroFarms and works closely with R&D and Business Development. He is an LED innovator and engineering technologist with over 20 years of experience in government and the private sector. Roger previously served as CTO of Energy Focus (a publicly traded company) for ten years leading their R&D, Engineering, and Operations to refit the U.S. Navy with LEDs, develop lights that leverage blue light to help regulate sleep cycles, and to set the world’s record for most efficient solar cell.

Roger worked with AeroFarms in 2009 to help with lamp and fixture design, and he brings his extensive network and industry expertise with LEDs. He has been the principal investigator on over a dozen federally funded research contracts spanning military and civilian technologies and holds over 20 patents covering a wide array of technologies. Roger has brought over 50 products from concept, through R&D, into engineering, and then onto the open market. Roger has a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Systems and Control Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Learn more about this exciting keynote session and the full conference program here.

“Roger Buelow’s extensive experience and keen industry insights, coupled with the AeroFarms Danville-Pittsylvania story, come together to create the perfect program to kick off the new CEA Summit,” says Dr. Michael Evans, Director of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech and Associate Director of the CEA Innovation Center. “We are thrilled to have Roger join the keynote stage and know our audience will be eager to hear from him.”

The new CEA Summit East is custom-tailored for new and well-seasoned CEA industry members from throughout the Eastern US, including indoor and greenhouse growers, facility owners and operators, educators, government officials, real estate developers, architects, construction specialists, sales and marketing teams and others.

During the one and one-half day event, industry members will have the opportunity to attend the conference featuring CEA thought leaders, researchers and experts leading keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions; explore tabletop exhibits presenting the latest CEA innovations and services; and enjoy a host of networking opportunities ranging from meals and coffee breaks to an evening social event.

Registration is now open for the event and attendees can save with discounted Early Bird rates when they register before October 7, 2022.  Learn more at

WHEN:                 Tuesday, October 25 – Wednesday, October 26, 2022
IALR Institute Conference Center, 150 Slayton Ave, Danville, VA 24540
INFO:                    For information on exhibiting or attending visit 

Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for indoor | vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information – | 404.991.5186

The School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech trains the next generation of professionals in the fields of plant breeding and genetics, agronomic and horticultural crop production, plant protection, soil and water systems management, agricultural technologies, environmental restoration and agro-environmental stewardship.  It conducts research to improve agricultural productivity, reduce negative impacts on the environment and improve soil and water health.  Through extension programs, it provides science-based information to stakeholders to help them feed the world while protecting the environment.  More information —  

The Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech works to support the future of the historic seafood industry — in Virginia and beyond. Its extension specialists work with industry and research partners to identify and respond to emerging needs and provide technical guidance to stakeholders in every level of the seafood supply chain. Through technical assistance, training, process validation, value-added product development, and more, it helps stakeholders ensure product quality, safety, and viability. More information —

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) serves as a regional catalyst for economic transformation. Core focus areas include research that provides a clear path to commercialization, advanced learning opportunities where education meets experience, training and rapid-launch space for advanced manufacturers, and economic development through conferencing and a partnership with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. It is located in scenic and historic Danville-Pittsylvania County on the VA/NC state line, within a short drive of Roanoke, Greensboro and Raleigh.  More information – 

Since 2004, AeroFarms has been leading the way for indoor vertical farming and championing transformational innovation for agriculture. On a mission to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity, AeroFarms is a Certified B Corporation with global headquarters in Newark, New Jersey. Named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company two years in a row and one of TIME’s Best Inventions in Food, AeroFarms patented, award-winning indoor vertical farming technology provides the perfect conditions for healthy plants to thrive, taking agriculture to a new level of precision, food safety, and productivity while using up to 95% less water and no pesticides ever versus traditional field farming. AeroFarms enables local production to safely grow all year round, using vertical farming for elevated flavor.™ Its products can be found at major selling partners like Ahold Delhaize, Amazon Fresh, Baldor Specialty Food, Compass Group, Harris Teeter, Marcus BP, Momofuku Noodle Bars, ShopRite, The Fresh Market, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market. In addition, through its proprietary growing technology platform, AeroFarms has grown over 550 varieties of plants and has developed multi-year strategic partnerships ranging from government to major Fortune 500 companies to help uniquely solve agriculture supply chain needs. More information –