Popular Mechanics takes an ever-so-brief look at farming in space.
Gene Giacomelli, a University of Arizona agricultural researcher and the lead investigator of a NASA-funded growth chamber for the moon, envisions a multiarmed, inflatable greenhouse building staffed with robots that do the bulk of the work. “Astronauts should not have to be farmers,” he says.
Nor (more to the point) should settlers.
The settlers in In the Shadow of Ares make extensive use of this combination of inflatable greenhouses and robotic technology, in the form of the bubbles at the Green and the Jacobsens’ Ares IV homestead and their respective semi-autonomous gardener ‘bots.
While the article mentions food and oxygen production, it does not mention one of the important benefits such greenhouses would offer: enhanced morale. Whether it is the fresh atmosphere of a small homestead garden or the large park tucked into one corner of an industrial-scale agricultural bubble, greenhouses will offer settlers a reminder of Earth and a break from their otherwise wholly artificial surroundings.