Clyde Valley Farm - CDVF

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Both Joe Carswell and his latest variety of heirloom rice, Carolina Gold, have a long history in North Carolina. Joe’s ancestors first came here from England in the 1700s  and the Carswells grew to become one of the largest families in Burke County. Carolina Gold descends directly from the rice brought to America from Africa in the colonial days. It was given its name both because of its golden color and its high value. Once, the Carolinas were big rice producers but the practiced died out after the Civil War because of the large amount of labor required in its production. Now Joe is reviving the art on Clyde Valley Farm, in Morganton, where he grew up farming with his father. Joe also grows oriental rice originating from Laos. And, Kiwi Fruit.

 

Joe had been growing other crops when, four years ago, a Hmong woman approached Joe at church and asked if she could try to grow rice on some of his land. He was surprised at how successfully she grew the rice- using a water sprinkler to irrigate- and decided to start growing it himself. The Hmong community helped him cultivate it the first year and then Joe started experimenting with rice on his own.

 

The two creeks on the farm provide the water needed to irrigate the pads. He gets the water to about half the paddies just using gravity, and pumps the creek water to the other half. The rice grows easily as long as it has plenty of water. It is all grown naturally, without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

 

Today, Joe is growing purple, black, two varieties of white, and brown sticky rice. The heirloom Carolina Gold, a sweet, long-grain rice, is his only type that is not a sticky rice. He uses a special mill that takes the hull off without removing the outer membrane to produce more nutritious brown rice.

 

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