A subset of our underutilized crops page, this area focuses solely on rice and paddy systems as an agricultural option for extremely short and cold locations like Vermont, zone 3 to 5 USDA and for hilly locations where terracing is crucial.  

We are entering our fourth season of growing short grain brown rice via fertigated paddies terraced on a steep hillside composed of very poor sandy and clay subsoil.  We research various methods of water management (rice is all about water management) by applying different treatments to each paddy.  We are also researching and developing hulling approaches and soil-building in paddies (paddies as a regenerative tool for degraded lands). We offer rice-specific tours to many people interested in growing this exciting, climate-change adaptable staple crop on their own sites.  Much more information on growing rice in very cold climates is in our book.  

Links to information about our rice work:

7 Days Vermont Article on Rice Growing and WSD

Aggroinnovations Podcast

Treehugger.com article

A few videos:

Vermont Rice Paddies Before-After from Ben Falk on Vimeo.

Rice Paddy Construction At Whole Systems Research Farm from Ben Falk on Vimeo.


Some photos:


A video of some of our processing thus far and rice in general.

Growing and Processing Rice at the Whole Systems Research Farm, 3 years in from Ben Falk on Vimeo.

It took almost a year to figure out how we were going to process the crop - dehulling is a challenge (threshing and winnowing are easy).  After months of research sporadically and an attempt to make a dehuller with my wood lathe I was not far, having little time to produce such equipment in the shop (it's doable I am sure).  Come this spring I went to pick up an old wood cook stove in Athens Vermont.  There, I encountered a barn full of old treasures.  Among the lanes of human-powered equipment was a two-man rice dehuller made in Osaka, Japan. We continue to tweak it but have gotten to very clean grains pretty quickly. The Mad River Valley rice processing station is now open.