Archive for the ‘growing’ Category

Flowers in the Rice Paddy!

By Nick Storrs

As students return to school, our rice paddies have also crossed a major milestone this past weekend. We were greeted on Tuesday with the first flowers of the season, in a process botanists and farmers call “heading out.’ This is always an important time because it gives us a glimpse into how large the harvest will be in the fall.

The flowers individually are very small and a pale green shade. They are so nondescript because like many grains they rely on the wind to spread their pollen rather than insects and animals. But what further makes rice special is that a flower can pollinate itself, and often do before the flower has completely opened to the world. Because of this it is extremely easy to save seed from rice, and is an important of the growing process in many of the poorer regions of the world.  When the flowers are pollinated before they are fully open they have much less of a chance to be contaminated by other variety and make hybrids. Instead the seeds will often grow into plants that are very similar to their parent.

While our three beds were planted at different times and using different methodsof starting seeds, they all headed out at about the same time. The youngest bed headed out 4 days after the earliest bed did.  But the size of the panicles was very different. The panicle is a stem that supports many flowers and eventually many grains of rice. The panicles of the strong bed were 8-10 inches long while the smallest bed was only 6 inches or so. This will reflect the amount of rice harvest from each bed.

What is so cool is that I expected the different beds to flower a couple of weeks apart because of their different planting times. But they must flower based on a cue from the weather or length of day, because it all happen so quickly. What wasn’t surprising was which beds grew longer panicles and will grow more rice. When we harvest it will be interesting to compare how much rice came from each beds.

All of these little citizen science experiments can really help to give us an understanding of how rice growing in this region of the world.


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By EunYoung Sebazco

We been trying to have a sustainable practice on our small rice paddies even though they are a “man-made wetland.” One of them is duckweeds, which is a rice companion plant. We have been growing duckweeds on our paddies since last year.

Lets say what the duckweeds do. IMG_20130803_090049They clean the water, provide bio-fertilizer, allege control, and limit mosquitoes. These are things that humans are not able to control without adding chemicals. Also, duckweeds contain high amounts of protein, more so than soy bean. Duckweeds are a good food resource in some parts of Asia for both animals and humans. Maybe we can also use duckweeds as a supplement for our teenage stage of chickens. Duckweeds spread quick, colonies of them could cause a problem of oxygen. But, don’t worry, we have a solar air pump and other good friends working together in the water. (Photo from Akaogi Farm, August 2013)

We (Koreans) call duckweeds ” Keguri bap” means ” Bullfrog’s rice”. A lot of time Bullfrogs live in the rice paddies. The duckweeds are extremely dense on the surface of the water that when they swim out of the water, their face is covered with duckweeds. 0.49809900_1368408945So, it looks like bluegills are eating the duckweeds. That’s how we named it? In Korea while the little children are eating rice and get some rice on their face, the parents say ” You have bullfrog’s rice your face”. I love the sound of word keguri bap. (Photo: http://bric.postech.ac.kr)

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By EunYoung Sebazco
We would like to hear or see how our little visitors observed and their perspectives of our rice paddies. So, we came up with an experiment this year.
1045236_290189197793501_1586008799_nWe had a sweet 5 year old visitor on a Sunday morning in July. His name is Syun. I set up the small video camera on his forehead (He was very excited about the process).

Now… action! I gave him few simple questions. I asked him what he saw at our rice paddies. How many leaves, what shape of the leaves, any flowers or fruits on, any bugs around the paddies. He responded very well. I will bring him out the paddies thought out the season. Stay tuned-

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By Winnie L.

The warm weather has given the rice seeds that final little push to germinate just in time for our Rice Festival on June 5th.

Chefs Yoshi Kousaka and MiHyun Han from Manhattan restaurants; students from Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School; Koichi Ai, the Deputy Consul General of Japan,  Masakazu Kigure, the Cultural Attache to the Deputy Consul General and Midori Goto, Cultural Affairs Specialist of Japanese Consulate (who also joined us for the Cherry Blossom Festival) and our own horticulture crew made this another fantastic Rice Festival! 

First graders making rice balls

The students made onigiri (rice balls) with umeboshi (pickled plums), nori (dried seaweed) and katuobushi (a fish-based, dry seasoning) with the help of our chefs. The rice balls were made with the same variety of rice that we’re growing here at the farm. Koshihikari rice is a short grain Japanese rice that has a sticky texture and sweet taste.

Koshihikari rice and rice plants from last year's Randall's Island rice harvest
Koshihikari rice and our own rice from last year’s Randall’s Island harvest

The weather is getting perfect for growing rice so we flooded the rice paddies that volunteers built (rice loves water!) and the students helped put the rice seedlings into the soil. On this sunny day, 300 seedlings were put into the rice paddies by forty first-graders (since April, over 900 rice seeds have been planted by students from all over NYC!).

First graders transplanting rice
First graders transplanting rice
First graders transplanting rice
First graders transplanting rice

We look  forward to harvesting the rice this Fall!

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IMG_20130403_152938Here, we are visiting the Consulate-General of Japan in New York City. Our dry rice plant stalks decorate the shelf along with traditional Japanese dolls. It was a great moment for us to hear the Japanese Consulate say: ” Thank you so much for growing Japanese Rice.”  By EunYoung Sebazco

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She Missed It!

We invited Michelle Obama to the Rice Threshing and Winnowing Event held in November 2012.  She  responded with the note below.  We are looking forward to sending another invitation next year when we have 3 Rice Paddies in the Learning Garden.

white house note

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Urban Farm Internship 2013

Urban Farmer Internship/Randall’s Island Park

About Us:
The Randall’s Park Alliance (RIPA) is a nonprofit organization that, in conjunction with City leadership, works to realize the island’s unique potential by developing sports and recreational facilities, restoring its vast natural environment, reclaiming and maintaining parkland, and sponsoring programs for the children of New York City. For more information about RIPA, its mission, and its programs, please visit www.randallsisland.org.

The Learning Garden/Randall’s Island Urban Farm is a 28,000 square foot organic vegetable garden composed of 55 raised beds. The garden includes 11 fruiting shrubs and a rice paddy. We grow a diverse variety of crops including but not limited to corn, asparagus, tomatillos, herbs, and Asian eggplants. In 2012 over 1,800 public school students visited the garden. The Learning Garden is a farm-to table program that focuses on edible education.  In 2013 the Urban Farm will expand by 8,000 square feet.

BLOG:  learninggardenrandalls.wordpress.com
Job Description:
Season: April 1 –October 31, 2013
Hours of work: 7:00 am – 3:30 pm (some weekends and overtime may be required)
Salary: According to experience and qualifications
Reports to: Urban Farmer

Responsibilities include:

  • Soil cultivation, digging, mulching, watering, raking, weeding, edging, pruning, seed sowing, bed preparation, planting, and composting
  • Works with the Urban Farm to liaison with GrowNYC, the co-sponsoring organization of The Learning Garden, to help coordinate and implement all activities in The Learning Garden. Tasks include preparation of the garden for student visits, lesson planning, creation of educational materials, and scheduling volunteer and student visits.
  • Assists the Urban Farmer with all educational activities in the Learning Garden
  • Assists the Urban Farmer with record keeping of harvest yields, disease and pest control efforts
  • Writes a blog once a week about The Learning Garden/Urban Farm.
  • Assists the Urban Farmer with planting, preparation and maintenance of the urban farm
  • Ensures all equipment is secure and well maintained
  • Performs duties in a manner consistent with a public garden serving multi-generational families and in accordance with directed practices and procedures
  • If the Urban Farmer is not available on a day a class is scheduled to come to The Learning Garden, the intern should be able to take over the educational portion of the day.
  • Set-up and cleanup of materials and site on a daily basis
  • Assists with other horticultural activities of the Horticultural Department, which could be helping with volunteer projects, weeding, planting and watering.


  • Strong gardening skills, including familiarity with organic seeds and seed propagation
  • Demonstrated knowledge of vegetable growing, pests and diseases
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to lift 50 lbs.
  • Willing to work in all types of weather, under strenuous conditions
  • Team player, creative and organized
  • Self-motivated with the ability to work both alone and in groups
  • Enthusiastic, work to high standards and ability to take direction
  • Strong work ethic
  • Excellent attendance
  • Some weekends required
  • Drug Testing and background checked required prior to employment

Preferred Skills/Qualifications:

  • Experience with educational children’s programming
  • Drivers license preferred
  • Knowledge of composting a plus
  • Knowledge of propagation a plus
  • Basic carpentry skills a plus
  • Course work in introductory biology/ecology or related field
  • Experience teaching or working with children  (elementary through high school)
  • Strong Communication skills
  • Strong computer skills, MSWord, Excel

Please email resume and cover letter to:   nick.storrs@parks.nyc.gov

No phone calls please.

Randall’s Island Park Alliance. is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, age, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, US Veteran status, or any other factor protected by law. Applicants must successfully complete a drug screen and background check prior to hire.

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