Building Rice Paddies in New York City

Another gem from Modern Farmer:

“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).”

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