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Bio-char is made from forest biomass via pyrolysis, a method of arresting the burning of woody biomass to make charcoal. It is being researched as an approach to help mitigate climate change via carbon sequestration.  Independently, Bio-char can increase soil fertility of acidic soils, increase agricultural productivity, and provide protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases.

This weekend will take you through the science and latest research on biochar, but also get you skilled up on all the necessary steps to create a biochar burner, create the char, inoculate it with beneficial micro-organisms, and apply it to the garden.


Saturday April 8

  • Classroom time with Carson Sprenger discussing local forest ecology, bio-char biomass selection/forest thinning for health, types of bio-char burner mechanisms.

  • Hands-on conversion of existing empty 3 to 4 ft. diameter fuel tanks to bio-char burner units.

  • Hands-on selection and harvest of forest material for bio-char burn.

  • Hands-on burning of existing material for bio-char burn and creation in the new burners

  • Evening film on bio-char uses in various contexts.

  • Music in the fire-circle - bring your instruments!

Sunday April 9

  • Classroom time with Kai Hoffman-Krull on latest bio-char research, historical local uses of bio-char, proven benefits to using bio-char as a top-soil amendment, for carbon sequestration, and other applicable science related to bio-char creation.

  • Hands-on inoculation or “charging” of the bio-char from Saturday’s burn with beneficial microbes.

  • Hands-on application of biochar to soil in the garden at Orcasong Farm.

  • Discussion of a working cooperative model for a local neighborhood bio-char cooperative based at Orcasong Farm.

  • Our intention is to come away from this workshop with the beginning tools and connections for a neighborhood biochar cooperative.


Carson Sprenger, Forester/ Restoration Ecologist/Fire Ecologist

M.S. Forest Ecology, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington

B.S. Environmental Science, The Evergreen State College

Carson is a forester and restoration ecologist with over 20 years of experience working in the forests of the

San Juan Islands.  He has 10 years of experience conducting ecological research and is a local expert on historical fires

and pre-contact forest structure. Carson specializes in conservation/forest management planning,

forest restoration design, veteran tree preservation & care, and hazard tree assessments.  

Over the past 3 years he has been working on low-impact Bio-char production methods

with partners at the University of Washington and the San Juan Conservation District.  

He manages a tree care and restoration forestry crew and has been co-director of Rain Shadow Consulting

since its inception in 2005.


Kai Hoffman-Krull, Executive Director of Forage, an on-farm research non-profit

Kai studied soil science at the Yale University Farm, where he served as a manager from 2010 to 2012.  

As Director of Forage, he has coordinated charcoal research with farms in San Juan County,

the University of Washington School of Environmental Studies, and the University of Montana

School of Forestry and Conservation. He is currently converting raw forest into a farm

with his wife Sarah on Waldron Island.



Workshop, on-site camping & meals:  $125      

orkshop and meals:  $95


* meals will be local & organic with vegetarian & GF options

* space is limited, so register soon!

* Cancellation policy:  no refunds after March 25, 2017


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