Author Archive


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

SEC Awarded Major Urban Forestry Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

The Sonoma Ecology Center recently signed a contract agreement with CalFire to manage an Urban Forestry grant that will produce biochar at Mare Island using pyrolysis technology from the Advanced Renewable Technology International company in Iowa. This project will work closely with a sustainably managed tree care company, A Plus Tree based in Pleasant Hill, California, to divert hundreds of cubic yards of material weekly from landfills and produce biochar instead. A Plus Tree will use the biochar in their tree care activities as well as distribute it to local community and school gardens in economically challenged areas of the East Bay Area, and will plant 1200 new trees in these areas as well. SEC hopes this project will serve as a model for the more sustainable use of urban biomass as well as scaling the use of biochar in urban and municipal landscaping activities.

We will post regular updates are excited to start work on this on this project that we hope will be a model for other similar efforts around the Bay Area and beyond.

Raymond Baltar

BioBiz Business Plan Competition

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

The BioBiz Business Plan Competition launches on Feb 1, and begins with a Request for Proposals (RFP) for applicants to submit their biomass business plan concepts.  We are pleased to announce that we have a new and expanded website to support the Competition!  This site contains all of the information you will need to start writing your winning biomass business concept including: application materials, scoring criteria, Competition timelines, and the awards package.  Please visit and share our new site: 


We are excited to announce that we were able to secure enough donations to award two business concepts a cash prize of $32,500 in addition to select technical services. Furthermore, we are continuing to work with  a few more donors to try and add more to the cash award and will announce any additional funds in March. A big “thank you” to our coalition of supporters, especially Sonoma Clean Power, CAL FIRE and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for contributing funds to this Competition! 

The RFP will begin on Monday February 1st, 2021 and close on March 26, 2021.  The RFP will provide interested applicants with all of the necessary details for their biomass business plan submission.  Free workshops will be provided by the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (by Zoom) to help applicants develop their plans January 27 through February 4.

Until then, we will continue to update  our website to ensure support of our applicants and the Competition. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email the BioBiz Competition coordinator, Clarke Stevenson, at

Thank you and mark your calendars for February 1st!

Sonoma Ecology Center Awarded NCRP Grant

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

The Sonoma Ecology Center was recently awarded a grant by the North Coast Resource Partnership to purchase a set of flame-cap, “Ring of Fire” kilns, pioneered by Kelpie Wilson of Wilson Associates, that will be used to convert forest slash to biochar. The kilns will be part of a “kit” that includes a trailer to transport them, a 500 gallon water trailer, and various tools and fire retardant clothing that will be used by the Potter Valley Tribe and the Redwood Forest Foundation to demonstrate this method as an alternative to open pile burning. The kilns will also be used at a Demonstration Day being organized by the Scott River Watershed Council in Siskiyou County that will also include the Conservation Burn technique and the TigerCat Carbonator owned by forester Dan Falk.

Below are some pictures showing the type of kilns that will be used.

Photo Courtesy Kelpie Wilson
Kelpie Wilson (center) helps to construct a “Ring of Fire” kiln, a modular and mobile device designed to convert orchard and forest slash materials into biochar. Photo courtesy Kelpie Wilson

Watch Dirt Rich, The Movie

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

Dirt Rich, a movie with a large focus on biochar, is available for viewing here!  As much of the world is spending time indoors while “flattening the curve”, here is a movie to watch for those with the luxury to do so.  (David Morell of Sonoma Ecology Center and Josiah Hunt of Pacific Biochar Benefit Corporation are part of this documentary style movie).

Ice on Fire Screening in Sonoma Aug. 26th!

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

“Ice on Fire” Screening in Sonoma August 26th

Sonoma Ecology Center, Redwood Forest Foundation Present ‘Ice on Fire’ at Sebastiani Theatre. 

An HBO documentary on climate change SOLUTIONS produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio in partnership with Tree Media Group has sparked interest and conversation since its debut at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Now the film – and the conversation – is coming to Sonoma as Sonoma Ecology Center and the Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI) proudly present “Ice on Fire” at the Sebastiani Theatre on Aug. 26.

“Ice on Fire” was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival in May, and premiered on HBO in June. Its arrival to the Sebastiani Theatre is its first Bay Area screening. This special event on Monday, Aug. 26 begins with wine donated and poured by Benziger Family Winery, plus light refreshments, in the Sebastiani Theatre foyer at 6 p.m. The film starts at 7 p.m., followed by a brief panel discussion moderated by Baltar and featuring “Ice on Fire” director Leila Conners, RFFI Chief Forester and Usal Forest manager Linwood Gill, and others to be announced. Sebastiani Theatre is located on Sonoma Plaza at 476 First Street East, Sonoma.

Tickets are available for $20 at  All students with valid student body card are Free!

All proceeds from the event will help support Sonoma Biochar Initiative and RFFI. For more on the film go to on-fire. For more on Sonoma Biochar Initiative and RFFI go to and

Upcoming Biochar Workshop

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

SBI is offering a 1.5 hour Biochar Workshop this Saturday, April 21st, from 10:30 A.M. to 12 P.M, as part of the Earth Day activities at the Sonoma Garden Park.  Learn about what biochar is, how you can make it yourself or where you can purchase it locally, how to use and apply it, and why we believe all gardeners should be using it. You can help actually DO something positive about climate change just by using biochar. Come learn how!

Go here to register.  $20 per person

Composting workshops at Sonoma Garden Park

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Initiative News

Announcing three fantastic composting workshops at the Sonoma Garden Park featuring Cuauhtemoc Villa:

–          Saturday, August 6th, 10am-12pm: Composting with Bokashi

–          Saturday, August 13th, 10am–12pm: Making Compost Tea

–          Saturday, August 20th, 10am-12pm: Reducing Waste: Indigenous Permaculture Practices

There is a nominal $10 fee per workshop that helps support activities of the Sonoma Ecology Center.

Click here to register and for more information.

The Aug. 20th workshop will also feature Raymond Baltar discussing how biochar should be integrated into all composting processes.

Biochar-Enhanced Chicken Manure Pellets Now Available

Written by raymondbiochar on . Posted in Biochar General, Biochar Policy, Biochar Technology, Citizen Science Project, Initiative News, Member News, Uncategorized, USBI Conference 2012

In collaboration with Weber Family Farms in Petaluma, The Sonoma Biochar Initiative and Sonoma Ecology Center are now offering buckets of biochar-enhanced chicken manure pellets as thank-you gifts for donations during a special fundraising campaign.  The chicken manure is an OMRI-listed organic manure that is high in nitrogen and blended with biochar made from locally-sourced woody biomass.

Pellets small

This fantastic soil amendment has been pelletized for easy application and can be used anywhere in your garden. Two sizes are available:  5-gallon and 2-gallon buckets. We are asking for a suggested donation of $30 for the 5-gallon size, and $20 for the 2-gallon size. This special blend is available for pickup on Saturday mornings at the Sonoma Garden Park Fam Market, from 9 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., 19996 7th St E, Sonoma, CA 95476, or by special arrangement at Sonoma Ecology Center offices in the Sonoma Developmental Center.

We want to thank Mike Weber of Weber Family Farms for his generous donation of goods and services in support of this fundraiser.

For more information call Raymond Baltar at:  707 291-3240