Growing Grains Locally: Rice Conference, August 6

With the increase in demand for local grains, New England farmers are now turning their attention to the possibilities of growing rice. A recent road trip to southern Vermont, where we visited the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market, gave us the opportunity to meet Linda Akaogi of Akaogi Farm, who, along with her husband Takeshi, is spearheading this effort.

As it turns out, Vermont is on the same latitude as northern Japan, so growing rice in this part of New England, as Linda puts it, “just makes sense.” The Akaogis selected a short grain rice specifically from Hokkaido—which has a similar cold, short growing season—to start with, and produced more that 2 tons per acre in their first year; they’ve since expanded their trials to include other varieties.

In a unique collaboration between farmers and conservationists, the Akaogis are also exploring the potential of their paddies to act as man-made wetlands, benefitting both wildlife and rice crops. Elsewhere in Vermont, farmer Erik Andrus has taken a different direction, and is integrating rice and duck farming at Boundbrook Farm. To help support this growing interest, the Akaogis are again hosting the Annual Northeast USA Rice Conference at their farm in Westminster West, VT, on Saturday, August 6th. As Linda told us, “Seeing the rice paddies is a different experience.”

Second Annual Northeast USA Rice Conference
Akaogi Farm, Westminster West, VT
Saturday, August 6, 2011
9 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Following the 2009 Sustainable Rice Production for the Northeast Workshop, this conference will focus on wildlife conservation issues associated with rice paddy systems in the morning, and general rice agriculture topics in the afternoon. Lunch will highlight the importance of rice as a staple food for many cultures and will include short presentations by local chefs about the rice dishes they have prepared.

The conference will feature presentations by:
• Takeshi Akaogi, Akaogi Farm
• James Andrews, The Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Project
• Michael Blust, Professor of Biology, Green Mountain College
• Peter Hobbs, Adjunct Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences Dept., Cornell University
• Erika Styger, Director of Programs, SRI International Network and Resources Center

Cost: $30 fee ($20 for students) includes lunch and copy of the 2009 workshop proceedings. Register early: space is limited! The draft agenda for the conference is now available.

Contact Mia Akaogi at [email protected] with any additional comments or questions. The Second Annual Northeast USA Rice Conference is a collaboration between the McCouch RiceLab at Cornell University and Akaogi Farm. It is funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

For more information:

Further reading:

Could Rice be the Northeast’s Newest Grain Crop?
Rice in the Northeast: Update
Rice Would be Nice
Commercial rice growing takes root in Vt.

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