Growing rice in Moncure, NC?

February 13, 2010 at 11:04 pm 6 comments

Two young farmers at an incubator near  Pittsboro will soon have a viable local rice crop, thanks to their ingenuity, perseverance, and a grant from the Rural Advancement Foundation International:

Before moving to Moncure about two years ago, Jason and Haruka Oatis lived and farmed in Japan, where they also ate rice daily.   After moving to North Carolina, they established their Edible Earthscapes CSA farm, a dream come true. It seemed to have just about everything — fertile soil, a hoop house, a cistern and deer fence, plentiful herbs, sunflowers, vegetables and greens, good neighbors, and a growing market of consumers hungry for sustainably grown food.

But there was one thing missing: a rice paddy.  Come on, in the Piedmont? Right.

Jason eyed the low-lying corner of the property and began dreaming, and reading, about how to grow rice in North Carolina. He read One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fakuoka and decided that he and Haruka could become rice farmers, too.

Last winter they began digging the low area out and sculpting the clay soil into a tiered rice paddy.  It looked like the real deal.

They even made clay seed pellets, providing a protective covering over each tiny rice seed so the birds wouldn’t get them.  Jason broadcast the seeds by hand and waited. Within a week the seeds germinated and then, miraculously, it began to rain.

Soon they realized they would have to re-shape the paddy to hold and distribute the water more effectively, but that didn’t stop them. Never mind that they had to dig up all of the plants, fix the paddy, and then plant the rice again. It took them two days and it was really muddy work, but they did it.

By mid June, the transplants were thriving. And on September 25, they harvested their first rice.

Jason soon realized their hard work wasn’t over yet. He could not figure out a way to get the hulls off the seeds. He tried a coffee grinder, and all kinds of pounding and pressing, to no avail. They would need a costly hulling machine, but they didn’t have the money. The rice crop would have to be set aside and stored in bags until they could find a way.

Then the second miracle occurred. They learned about a grant, sent their application in and began waiting, and waiting for a response. Two weeks ago, Jason and Haruka got the good news: they had received a $10,000 grant from the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) Tobacco Reinvestment Fund to buy hulling equipment, expand the paddy, and continue cultivating our community’s first 21st century local rice crop.

You can read all about their rice paddy adventure  and see more of their outstanding photos on the Edible Earthscapes blog. 

Now if we could only figure out a way to grow local coffee……

Entry filed under: Learning, Sustainable Farming, Uncategorized. Tags: .

A case of cabbage Locals loved local Valentine’s fare

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Green Eats  |  February 18, 2010 at 1:58 am

    […] Continue reading about Edible Earthscapes and their North Carolina rice paddy […]

  • 2. Crop Mob strikes again « sustainable grub  |  February 20, 2010 at 1:13 am

    […] 20, 2010 Within hours of our posting, “Growing Rice in Moncure NC?” Rob Jones of Crop Mob contacted Jason and Haruka and offered to stage a “mob” work day […]

  • 3. Cooking for the Mob « sustainable grub  |  February 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    […] Mob drew more than 100 people to help Jason and Haruka expand their Edible Earthscapes rice paddy near Moncure. Building the terraces is a dirty, labor- intensive job that would ordinarily take […]

  • 4. Steve  |  March 11, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Very cool. You’ve probably read Masanobu Fukuoka’s book “One-Straw Revolution”? He talks about (in a nutshell) raising rice without flooding the paddy. Wonder if that would work around here?

  • 5. Local groups lend labor to farmers | Meagan Racey  |  June 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    […] Growing rice in Moncure, N.C., Sustainable Grub blog […]

  • 6. Dream fulfilled: local rice « sustainable grub  |  November 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    […] and Haruka Oatis have been dreaming of growing rice commercially on their small farm near Moncure, since they moved here from Japan three years ago. They began with […]


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