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.
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.
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.
Take a look at our Kickstarter campaign.