It has been a while since I came up with a good top five list. However, rice farming in Abbotsford is such an interesting topic it has inspired my list-making self and I’m back in business.
But first, if you live under a rock and haven’t seen the article yet please go read it on Tourism Abbotsford’s website! It struck a chord and has (to date) more than 450 likes and 250 some shares—so, people like rice farming huh? Me too!
My initial assignment was to cover locally brewed sake (rice wine) but after my pre-interview I had to go a different direction. You see, the sake is made in Vancouver—interesting but not local enough. The great news was the rice for the sake is grown in Abbotsford so I redirected and got to work.
Five Things I Learned About Rice Farming in Abbotsford
- First things first, I learned it’s possible to grow rice in Abbotsford. I didn’t know that. And not just sake rice, there is table rice and ornamental rice too. Farmers Masa and Yukiko Shiroki have grown rice behind Sumas Way for the past five years. Now on four acres, they’re expanding their rice varieties and are teaching local farmers about the craft
- Second, I learned this is the most northerly rice production region in the world. Also the only rice paddy in Canada
- Third, I learned rice is started from seed in greenhouses then transplanted to the fields when the sprouts are about six inches tall. This happens with a specialized planting machine not available in Canada. The Shiroki family imported all their machinery from Japan in order to farm here. The planting machine is quite an interesting contraption. It takes trays of rice seedlings and plants them one-by-one in perfect rows. So cool
- Fourth, I learned rice fields are flooded for the entire growing season. Our climate in the Fraser Valley helps (rain, rain, rain) but water must also be added. Beside the field there is a ditch. The ditch water is pumped into the fields when necessary
- Fifth, I learned water fowl LOVE rice seeds. Love. They attack the fields just after planting and dig around the mud in search of delicious rice seeds. They can smell them or something. The ducks and geese wreak havoc on the fields but migrate in early summer so are a temporary disturbance. Once they clear out the fields are replanted by hand where the birds clear cut
Visiting this farm and learning about rice growing was an incredible experience. I have never seen anything like this and look forward to trying homegrown rice. And nearby-made sake.