Ask Me Anything (AMA) - Ask Peter anything about MARSfarm & Fairchild

I am creating this thread to publicly address any questions from customers (or students! @Jamira) about emails from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to our customers about MARSfarm no longer providing equipment or support for Fairchlid’s educational programs.

Feel free to ask anything you want, I am the CEO so nothing is off limits

  1. What happened?
  • Fairchild offered to acquire 32% of MARSfarm in order to have more control over our products and branding. We expressed that we would not be comfortable giving up that much equity, and asked if a reduced amount would be possible. We had intended to continue supporting the GBE program despite any investment or non-investment. After our request to negotiate both the equity percentage and dollar amounts downward, Fairchild indicated that their future plans required a significant equity stake in any partnerships they engage in regarding GBE. Fairchild ultimately terminated both the investment deal and the relationship with MARSfarm in general.
  1. Did Fairchild cancel the contract because of quality concerns?
  • So far as we have been made aware, the decision to no longer purchase from MARSfarm was not due to any issues with the quality of our products or customer support.
  1. Does MARSfarm still sell countertop greenhouses and consumable lab supplies?
  • Absolutely! Click here to request a quote. The MARSfarm Version 1 (MV1) is on sale for $1579 until June 1st, which is almost a 30% discount on its Fall 2024 list price - so add a couple to your ‘wish list’ for next year if you haven’t already! If you had planned to purchase equipment manufactured by MARSfarm that Fairchild uses in their programs, unfortunately, we are no longer allowed to sell those products. However, We are also working to bring back the ‘MARSfarm Mini’ line of products - which is smaller and also priced under $1,000.
  1. Will MARSfarm be able to survive as a business without sales to Fairchild?
  • Yes! We’ve personally signed for over $180k in debt to build this business and are extremely encouraged by the growth we’ve seen after launching the MARSfarm Version 1 last Spring. Already three schools have purchased 25+ MV1s to retrofit classrooms as ‘agriscience labs’ - a great solution for middle schools or urban high schools where a controlled environment greenhouse just isn’t feasible:


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That is a surprise, Peter! I didn’t realize politics are in everything, even student learning programs!
I have always appreciated MarsFarm help with the GBE projects since the start.
Your growboxes have been running well for over 5 years!!

  1. Can you clarify the Consumable Lab supplies? We are looking to purchase “growing kits” of a variety of plant.
    We are excite to use our MV1 and have students design their own experiments with it!

  2. I am interested in an Agriculture grant to create more a Plant Lab space, since we cannot build a greenhouse. Your advice to coordinate and get the best results have been priceless. Ok to PM you?

Thank you for the update. We wish you all future growing success and will be in touch with our plant science needs!


Fairchild playing hardball, so now I have some concerns. We purchased two MARSfarm FG.V2 Growth Chambers for controlled variable research. The light board is the only material component with Fairchild proprietary markings. Are there any issues with our use of the FG.V2 or its components going forward? Can MARSfarm produce growth chambers equivalent to the FG.V2 near the price point in 2022? If so, we would be interested in new light boards which perform better than the GBE™ QUANTUM BOARD ® (GBE Eye Safety Analysis).

Dr Scott T Shipley, Director
WxAnalyst LTD
Satellite Beach, FL

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We sincerely appreciate those kind words of encouragement!

If you want to purchase the supplies to participate in GBE, then you’ll need to contact them directly: So to be clear, if you want to be able to contribute data to Dr. Gioia Massa’s experiments (who is the freaking coolest) and participate in the GBE science symposium - you’ll need to talk to them.

If you purchased equipment, no one can force you to use it for any specific purpose - so you are allowed to grow whatever you want. MARSfarm will continue to sell consumable kits, containing everything needed to grow 6-24 pots of plants (depending on the lab, there could be 1000s of seeds), for $89/ea. If there is demand for us to provide these kits not only for our MARSfarm branded equipment - but for other brands of equipment (not just Fairchild related - but like Tower Garden, AeroGarden, etc.) then we are willing to pursue those opportunities.

Regarding consumables for your MV1, MARSfarm is developing a new product line of consumable supply kits called ‘Predictable Plants’. Each lab is designed to provide teachers with a reliable outcome to demonstrate the influence of environmental variables on plant growth. This ‘predictable’ aspect helps teachers confidently train students on how to use the equipment and provides best practices for creating a hypothesis and then modifying the recipe to collect data. For example, here’s a demonstration of the first lab we’re selling which uses the ‘Outredgeous’ lettuce cultivar. After switching from the ‘Spectrum: Blue’ to the ‘Spectrum: Red’ recipes using our software, students will see the lettuce turn red in just a few days. Other recipes are designed to simulate a drought, or to cause the lettuce to bolt starting at 24 days by increasing temperature and throughout the entire trial the students are constantly updating the irrigation schedule to increase/reduce the amount of water being added daily via the pump.

NASA Research about Outredgeous lettuce:

Because we all fund NASA (yay, taxes!), and this isn’t related to defense, these publications by NASA are mostly public (just look up Dr. Gioia on Google Scholar). That is what gives us the ability to easily reverse engineer just about any plant that has been grown in space to determine what the settings should be used to recreate those experiments - regardless of the equipment that is used.

Absolutely! Agriculture education (vocational/CTE) and agricultural literacy are our bread and butter. This is probably the best list of private grants that provide funding specifically to purchase greenhouse alternatives: Educator Grants - Seed Your Future

I don’t have the time at this moment to get into the details of all the public ways that schools obtain money to purchase equipment - but will follow-up here later with more details about that as well.

@wxazygy - Thanks so much for the great questions. We have really appreciated your contributions to this community (since the very beginning!) and honestly your work analyzing the GBE LEDs taught me a great deal about how modeling of a light environment is done. I’ll get back with responses to your questions ASAP - thanks again for reaching out.

Have you completed a National FFA Grants for Growing application? You can get up to $5,000! It is how I started my lab.

After receiving more questions about the LEDs via E-mail, I want to address @wxazygy question in a bit more detail.

All of the units we manufactured should have serial plates on both the frames (front panel) and after 2022 the LED had a second serial plate to identify it separately as well. Those serial plates should have both the MARSfarm and Fairchild logos on them - which is a proprietary marking.

I agree the LED also has proprietary markings, none of which are owned by MARSfarm. We purchased the LEDs from Horticulture Lighting Group (HLG), who Carl had brought on to help find a better lighting solution over what was available off-the-shelf. To be clear, I think what they came up with is a brilliant innovation - using the knobs is super easy and while there are some problems at high amperages for the most part it was great. The QUANTUM ® trademark is owned by HLG which refers to their concept of ‘light engines’ (smaller arrays of LEDs) that they assemble into ‘lamps’ - which are LEDs for high-end Cannabis growers/cultivation facilities.

Because you purchased the equipment from MARSfarm (rather than receiving it on loan), you are free to do whatever you want with it. The only obligation was that we credit them a licensing fee at the time you purchased the equipment ($100, about half the profit) to help sustain the program - which was done already.

I’d like to separate this into a couple of different questions:

1. Will MARSfarm sell a ‘tabletop greenhouse’ for $500?
2. Will MARSfarm sell a product with an LED that has an RGBW knob controller?

I’ve already spent over an hour on this response when I should be shipping lettuce seeds so I’m going to give you a chance to reply and verify those are the right questions before I answer them in more detail. Please elaborate a little bit on what features of the LED specifically you would like to see left unchanged in an improved version from MARSfarm. I’ll also share with you that we’re already been working on lower-cost products, that are derived from the MARSfarm Version 1 product line. We haven’t decided on final pricing yet - so I’d be curious what you think the value of a ‘MARSfarm Mini’ should be. Perhaps this is still too many features?

I’ll end with this, our vision from a MARSfarm product line perspective has always been to create a higher-cost product first (MARSfarm Version 1) and then expand the product line by eliminating features on simplified versions. Long-term we hope to get the costs so low that elementary schools and consumers can access our products - which I think would require a price point closer to $200. We think though that the MV1 is the best strategy for us as a business though to begin building the infrastructure (hardware, software, data architecture, user interface, climate recipes, etc.) that those users would want too.

Peter: Question #2 is easier to answer, so let’s get that out of the way. The dial-in knobs for RGBW settings are a good thing. The community already knows to avoid high light output and potential eye safety threats. I have detected a reduction in output irradiance with my older unit, so cost effective PAR and/or LUX meters are important additions to the user toolset. We also know about the spatial non-uniformity of light within the chamber, especially for the Green LEDs. See the Eye Safety thread in this community forum.

Users who are paying attention to PAR should be aware that a change in current for one knob can impact the light output for the other LED strings. This impact is about 10% and has been described in the “n-PAR Zero Sum Game” thread:

I also find the unit with detachable RGBW power cables to be easier to use in my applications. Space is an issue, and the power cables provided are either too long, or too short. Looking for Goldilocks.


  1. Clamp or limit high power operation (electrical design).
  2. Be clear on what the threats for high-power operation are (documentation).
  3. Provide or identify low-cost PAR/LUX meters (community service).
  4. Address uniformity of the light fields (layout).
  5. Independence of light channel currents (electrical design).
  6. Cable connectors or adapters (design).
  7. Revisit the reasoning for putting a fan in the light board (CSTR).

Scott (WxAzygy)