Rice in New England!?
We have successfully grown our first year of rice here in Vermont inspired by a few pioneers in the state. We now need your help to expand to an acre of rice paddies which will be able to supply between 3000 and 5000 pounds of rice. We need to build a warming pond, paddies, and infiltration swales. The pond will also be home to a flock of ducks, fish, and edible aquatic plants that we will be selling in the future. The infiltration swales will help direct water down into the ground and control runoff from our property along with the paddies.
The terraced paddies will not be just a mono-culture of rice. We are developing a polyculture of plant species that will grow along side the rice that will be mutually beneficial. We currently have a 3 plant setup that we will be experimenting with and expanding over the next few years. Azolla a water fern acts as a floating ground cover suppressing weeds and providing nitrogen. It can be harvested to be used as a high protein food for our animals and as a nitrogen booster in the garden. Watercress also grows well on the edges of the paddies and fills the mid-height vertical space in the paddies. With more paddies to experiment with next year we will be able to add to the list of combinations that work with rice.
We will also be having a rice growing workshop in the spring to spread the word on rice growing in New England. It will be for home gardeners who want to grow a small amount and for those looking to scale up to production scale. Attendance to the workshop will be given to those folks who pledge 150 dollars or more.
The money that you pledge will help us hire a local excavation company, purchase water pipes, seed for erosion control after construction, and survey equipment to mark out contours for the swales and paddies. The funding we are asking for is the minimum we have calculated we could do this project for. Any extra would be greatly appreciated and help us build drying and storage space, bags, and further our development of a small scale human powered and affordable rice huller.
You can read more about us at our website and blog at http://breezymeadowsorchards.com
A shallow, warm, protected pool of water seems to be a great place for mosquitoes to multiply like crazy. We did not notice a huge amount of mosquitoes around the paddies or the farm this year. Black flies of course but in their normal amounts. For our paddy system I think the azolla and predation where the main two factors keeping the mosquito population down. The azolla creates a thick mat that physically blocks the mosquito. With all the amphibious life we had the larva that did make it was probably consumed pretty quickly. And then we had a really large population of dragonflies and damselflies that are eating hundreds of bugs in a day.
After Irene we had a lot more wet spots around the farm and we did notice a big jump in mosquitoes for a few weeks.
There is already a pond near by the had already been encouraging predators to flourish which helped get our paddy population up faster. It could be that for a new paddy in an area that is low in predators the mosquito population would be higher in the first few years. But the azolla should provide a decient control.
There is a discription of rice growing in Gene Logsdon book where a couples paddy is leaking so there is often no standing water. http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/smallscale_grain_raising_second_edition/ You could use this to your advantage and break the larval cycle by letting water out of the paddy every so often.
The first thing to note is that we should not be messing with wetland systems to drastically. One of the reasons we want to grow rice to to help create more wetland environments. Humans have been draining out wetlands for agriculture and other uses for a long time and have destroyed millions of acres of habitat. Rice can help encourage a population of wetland creatures as well as performing similar functions of a wetland environment.
If you have an area that has some season surface water or often gets really wet and stays wet after a rain storm a rice paddy could be a good fit. A place where a spring comes up can also be a good place for a rice paddy.
The one big thing to think about is that the water temp coming from the spring or even a run off from a storm will be relatively cool. This can delay the rice from developing as quickly which for our climate is pretty important. If you have space a small warming pond can help. If you don't have the space you can still be successful even with cooler water, but it's something to think about.
And you still need to think about a fertility source if your using spring water.
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