Starting a new tradition - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Starting a new tradition

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Refugees from across the world call Vermont home and have brought their culture with them...

"We had a pretty huge rice farm in Bhutan so many years ago but we had to leave our country in 1992," said Harka Khadka, one of the farmers.

The rice stocks will go back to the greenhouse and sit out to dry for a few days before being beaten again to remove the rest of the grain. it's a long process that takes dedication.

"They focus and they love their work, they have good skills and then they respect each other, I like that," explains Newpaneo.

Next year's harvest will be even larger and if you've never harvested rice before there's always next year.

The elders are still unsure what kind of rice this is, but Lucky for Elliot, the process isn't finished yet. 

And locals of all ages have come out to help harvest and taste. 

And it did...In June, they planted those seeds on this quarter acre of land.

"Today we'll just produce like 750 pounds only and then we'll save all that seeds and then next year we want to do like 5, 6 acres," adds Rita Newpaneo. 

Bhutanese elders went to the Association of Africans Living in Vermont for help with beginning a project that would connect them to their native land... The New Farms for New Americans program then set up a few small plots last year to begin growing seeds.

Alisha Laramee is the New Farms for New Americans program manager.  

The quarter of an acre rice paddy at the Ethan Allen Homestead brings back memories of home for Khadka, like it was yesterday. 

"I have plowed the field using my father's oxen, I have beaten the grains out of the husk, I have helped my father put the grains in storage, I have done everything," said Khadka.

"The first year was really a demonstration six plot where we were learning a little bit about the process, whether or not it was actually going to work," said Laramee.

Newpaneo also works with the New Farms for New Americans, as the farmer manager.

"I tried some, it doesn't taste very good," said Elliot Laramee. "Why not?" he was asked, "Because it tastes like...grass." Laramee answered. 

"This rice is in the husk, we have to separate the husk from the grain," said Khadka.

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