The Rice Growing on Randall’s Island

It’s kind of an addiction, growing rice on Randall’s Island.  It started out as an crazy experiment and has become a passion. The evolution of the four rice paddies on the Randall’s Island Park Alliance Urban Farm happened slowly.  We built on our successes and a certain giddiness set in.  Pretty soon we were harvesting more rice than we could handle.

Every year we host a Rice Festival, to thresh, mill and winnow our rice using traditional methods.  Winnowing baskets from around the world, DIY mortar and pestle and elbow grease provided by enthusiastic 4th graders.

3 rice paddies

The Rice Paddies at the Urban Farm 2013

Last summer, we went to the Northeast Rice Conference  in Vermont and met Don Brill.  Brill is an engineer, whose son raises rice.  As fathers are apt to do, he wanted to help his son hull his rice.  He designed a Bicycle Powered Rice Huller  and demonstrated it at the conference.  Don has agreed to design a bicycle powered rice huller for Randall’s Island.

rice drying (2)

The Rice Drying before Winnowing and Threshing

And that brings me to the shameless commerce division of this blog.  We wanted a more efficient way to thresh, mill and winnow our rice.  We wanted Brill’s Bicycle Powered Rice Huller for the farm. When you work for a non-profit, you need to be inventive.  We decided to try a Kickstarter campaign.  In three days we raised the money necessary to build the Bicycle Powered Rice Huller.

Nick Storrs, the Randall’s Island Urban Farm Manager met Ken Greene of the Hudson Valley Seed Library at  NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association)  last week. Ken demonstrated the Air Column Seed Separator at the conference.  This “invention” can help us separate the chafe from the rice kernels once we have run it through the rice de-huller.  It’s another DIY project. We excell at these types of tasks.  We’ve added this additional project to our Kickstarter campaign.

rice in birch basket

The Rice Harvest 2013

Take a look at our Kickstarter campaign.

One comment

  1. As a lover of all things growing, I have to say “wow,” rice paddies in Manhattan?! I love it! I can’t wait to go see them this summer and hopefully be a part of the Randall’s Island Urban Farm team!

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