Dec 4, 2011

Give Us This Day
Our Daily RICE

Rice Drying on Randall's Island
Randall's Island Park
Creator and  Designer

Never say something can't be done, especially when it comes to horticulture.  There is always someone out there to prove you wrong.  Eunyoung Sebazco is one of those people.

Eunyoung is the Assistant Horticulture Manager for Randall's Island Park.  She was the creator of our Children's Garden. Over the last three years, the garden has expanded.  It is now 12,000 square feet.  The Children's Garden is now called The Learning Garden.  This year Eunyoung had the idea to make a rice paddy.  I thought she didn't have a chance of pulling it off.

 The rice paddy was built by Ulises Hernandez and Wayken Shaw using recycled bricks from Randall's Island.
 Volunteers from Bloomnberg LLP and school kids roll out plastic from Home Depot as a liner.
 Volunteers and school kids propagate the rice seed in plastic cups.
 We can see a little green.
 The rice transferred to larger pots.  I began to get worried that the paddy would turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  What to do?  Wayken Shaw suggested pitcher plants.  We also bought an $80 solar aerator from Amazon, which really worked.  On Randall's Island it's easy to sometimes fantasize you are in another place.  We bought papyrus plants and water lilies and we started dreaming.
 In conjunction with school children, we added compost and sand to the "soil."
 The rice got taller.
 We added bamboo to facing of the paddy and finally it was time to cut the rice.

 And than it was time to cut the rice and tie into bundles. 
The rice fully mature.  Waiting 20 days until threshing.

We (Randall's Island Horticulture Department) participated in "New Green City" in Union Square, New York City.  We brought one of the rice plants in a pot; put a sign on the plant which read, Do you know what plant this is?  Thousands walked by, hundreds stopped, only three people identified the plant:  a man from India, another from Bangladesh and a woman from the Caribbean.  They all had grown up in environments where rice is grown.  The man from Bangladesh told me that they thresh the rice in a sock to prevent the grains from scattering all over the place.
Jackie Young's 5th Grade Class from PS 182 and the crew
from Momofuku Restaurant thresh the rice.

Separating the rice from the husk.

From left to right:  Matt Rudofker, Sous Chef from Ssam Bar,
Manager from Ssam Bar and Wayken Shaw, Horticulture Crew, Randall's Island

A member of Momofuku crew winnowing the rice
with a traditional winnowing basket from Korea.

Someone asked Eunyoung why we were drying the rice in a traditional way.  Eunyoung responded, "I asked the old people how they did it. Old people have wisdom."  And so apparently does Eunyoung, after all she made the rice paddy a reality.


I will also be blogging for the rice paddy site.