“Storrs is pretty sure this is the only rice grown in NYC, and the farm is one the few places growing it in the Northeast. U.S. rice cultivation is mostly limited to small swaths of Northern California and the Southeast. Most North American schoolkids have likely never seen a living rice plant.
Now, about those paddies. They’re housed in raised beds, using cinder blocks left over from the construction of a huge sports stadium. The blocks are stacked in trough formation, about 26 inches tall, lined with thick painters’ tarp to prevent seepage — they need to retain lots of water.
Randall’s Island has now scaled up from one to four raised-bed paddies. The farm isn’t producing a groundswell of rice, but that’s not really the point. Thousands of visiting students get to see firsthand how their food is made.
Rice certainly isn’t the only crop grown on Randall’s Island — roughly 200 items are grown on the farm. They grow many types of peppers (another food that spans many cultures), eight types of tomatoes, and quirky items like luffa (source of loofah sponges) and tulsi (an Indian plant used to make tea).”
“One thing feathers have going for them are keratin, a tightly wound, crystal structured protein eight times stronger the cellulose. Feathers are packed with the stuff, but you have to work for it. First the feathers must be ground and then placed in a turbulent air flow separating machine that thrusts the quill segments to the base, blowing the barbs to the top. Then they can be softened with heat and molded into shapes. Often other bioplastics are added to optimize strength or flexibility and to make a lighter plastic.
Unlike petroleum-based plastics, they safely biodegrade, often releasing beneficial nitrogen into the soil.
Schmidt is now one of many researchers internationally working with chicken feathers and to date, estimates he’s processed at least 10,000 pounds of them. He and his colleagues are fond of the phrase ‘making chicken salad out of chicken shit.’
The list of things that the keratin-rich material has been used to make is vast: dishes and furniture, clothing, circuit boards, wall insulation, filters and planting pots (the feathers of one chicken makes three one-gallon containers). Feathers are used to make hurricane-proof roofing, shoe soles, and lightweight auto dashboards and glove compartments leading to fuel efficiency. While most are still prototypes, Schmidt says a “handful” of patents have been licensed by research institutes.”
“When HIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the early 1900s, it crossed a gulf spanning several million years of evolution. But tobacco ringspot virus, scientists announced last week, has made a jump that defies credulity. It has crossed a yawning chasm ~1.6 billion years wide. And this is likely bad news for its new host, the honeybee, matchmaker of crops and bringer of honey. …
As scientists were studying the possible role of pollen in spreading known bee viruses, a team of scientists from the United States and China began screening bees and pollen for viruses of all sorts. To their surprise, as they reported Jan. 21 in the journal mBio, they discovered a common plant virus — tobacco ringspot virus — had seemingly infested honeybees. Was it merely a transient visitor? Or had it made itself at home in a place inconceivably different from its usual digs?”