Episode-63: North American Sake Rice & Agriculture with Isbell Farms Part 2

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This week we continue our conversation with the multi-generation family of rice (and sake rice!) farmers at Isbell Farms in the heart of Arkansas. For those of you just now joining, we highly recommend you make time to give Part 1 of this conversation a listen before diving in, as it provides a great deal of context for this week’s discussion, is referenced occasionally throughout the show, and more than anything, it introduces you to this inspiring family.

This week the family kicks things off by talking about the transition from their early work with Takara Sake USA to connecting with Blake Richardson of Moto-I and Minnesota Rice & Milling via Norway, which lead to further expansion into a range of sake-specific rice varieties in support of North America’s craft sake breweries, along with the recent development of their own sake rice variety, known as Somai.

From there we get into the creation of sake rice sample kits (and post office shenanigans!), the experience of opening up and sharing family life on the farm through YouTube, tackling sustainability and conservation issues surrounding rice farming while selling carbon credits to Microsoft in the process, and a great deal more.

We hope that this pair of episodes not only contributed to our listeners’ appreciation of sake and the hard work and passion involved in bringing that magnificent beverage to life, but also helped to further your interest in the world of agriculture in North America – and anywhere, for that matter. All of our futures hinge upon the people and means through which we grow food. If that food being grown contributes to beautiful sake, and if that beautiful sake contributes to a healthy and sustainable future, all the better. In that capacity, we here at Sake On Air can’t wait to see where the Isbell Family takes us next.

For more about Isbell Farms:
- Website
- Instagram
- Facebook
- Twitter
- YouTube

Thanks for once again tuning in to Sake On Air. You can help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts or on whatever service delivers you all of your podcasting needs. Contact us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp with any thoughts about this week’s show, and feel free to follow us on  InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. Everything from Sake Future Summit 2020, as well as a number of other recordings, are all archived over on our YouTube channel, as well.

We’ll be back in two weeks with a bit more Sake (and Shochu!) on Air.
Until next time.


Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is a co-production between Export Japan and Potts.K Productions, with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.