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Director of the Sonoma Biochar Initiaitve MBA in Sustainable Enterprise, Dominican University Green MBA Program

New Members!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Member News

We’d like to welcome two new members to the Sonoma Biochar Initiative:

Benjamin Colby of Swallow Valley Farm


Charles Berkstresser of TragaLuz.

Thank you for supporting our efforts to educate Sonoma County residents and promote use of biochar to build healthy soils and redirect carbon.

11.5 Tons of Biochar Delivered To Sonoma Today!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

11.5 tons of biochar was delivered to the Sonoma Biochar Initiative this cold, December morning. The char is being stored in Sonoma courtesy of Sonoma Materials, whose generosity in giving us the storage space we want to publicly thank, and whose talented forklift operators unloaded the truck in what must have been less than 15 minutes (great job, Tony and assistant!). This biochar, made from wood waste and walnut shells, was made available through Sonoma Compost Company and we also want to thank them for arranging this delivery. Destined for use in vineyard and farm field trials all of this char is spoken for but we are hoping this will just be the first of many such deliveries moving into the future. Here are a few photographs I took to record the event.

It was a very full load.

SBI receives P. G. & E “Power Your Community” Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative was recently awarded a $1000 “Power Your Community” grant from our local utility, P. G. & E. This money is being put to immediate use in helping us purchase a large quantity of biochar for local field trials in Sonoma and Napa counties. We sincerely thank P. G. & E. for helping us realize our goal of installing biochar demonstration plots to gather data on its effectiveness in local farm settings.

Governor Brown Signs the Renewable Energy Equity Act!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

The following newsflash from CalCan could have significant implications for the widespread installation of certain biochar production facilities in rural California:
On October 8, the Renewable Energy Equity Act (SB 489) became law in California. This CalCAN-sponsored bill makes it easier for farmers and ranchers to develop small-scale, distributed renewable energy projects by allowing them to easily and effectively connect to the grid. The Renewable Energy Equity Act will help California farmers and food processors lower their energy costs, produce homegrown clean, renewable energy and reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

We are deeply grateful for the leadership of the author, Senator Lois Wolk, and her very capable staff for understanding the importance of this bill for California farmers and for the state’s renewable energy goals. Two of CalCAN’s farmer advisors have been leaders on the bill – Russ Lester and Jenny Lester-Moffitt at Dixon Ridge Farms  have led the field with innovations in producing heat and electricity by gasifying walnut shells. Justin Malan (Ecoconsult) and Karen Mills (California Farm Bureau) also made this victory possible.

New England Biochar in the News

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Uncategorized

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that $225,875 is being awarded to four entities in Hawaii through the Conservation Innovation Grant.  One of these is a biochar project involving SBI member Peter Hirst of New England Biochar.

Whispering Winds Bamboo <> Cooperative Corporation, an organic bamboo timber, teak and produce farm in Hana, Maui, was awarded funds to convert bamboo timber waste to biochar using a farm-scale Adam-Retort, of which New England Biochar is the exclusive American supplier.  The grant was made to demonstrate that appropriately sized farm based charcoal kilns can be cost effective, income generating and fertility enhancing to a farm operation. Total sequestered carbon will also be calculated to show how much carbon footprint offset is made by the adopted technology during the project term.

The New England Biochar Adam-Retort is the unit that SBI and others are hoping to bring to the Sonoma Valley to support similar enterprises here.

“We are pleased to provide this federal funding to help these innovative projects to help our farming community,” said Mr. Angel Figueroa, NRCS Director of the Pacific Islands Area.  “These new techniques can be adapted by others.”

Peter will be in Hawaii in January as a principle presenter at the Maui Aloha Aina Body & Soil Conference <> at Kumulani Farm in Olinda  and working with Whispering Winds on their project.

Before his arduous duty in the Islands, however, Peter will be visiting us here in late October and will be spending some time in the Bay Area before traveling to Chile to install an Adam-Retort for the Instituto de la Patagonia at Magellan University in Punta Arenas, Chile.

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