Veganic Tips- BIOCHAR

Sprouting Broccoli on left was planted in soil enriched with biochar
Sprouting Broccoli on left was planted in soil enriched with biochar

Turn brush and scraps into a useful soil amendment with Biochar

Biochar is a charcoal fired in a low-oxygen stove at temperatures twice as hot as fuel charcoal, which makes a cleaner product (I rubbed it in my fingers, see photos below). The burn method sequesters carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere as does brush-fires, burning the Amazon, or letting brush decay over time.
Creating biochar can make use of scrap wood,woody brush such as blackberry vines and scotch broom. Making bio-char could solve a common disposal problem for Islanders and create a useful amendment for acid soils in the garden.
Biochar makes a long-lasting soil amendment that can raise pH in soils, store water, and create in-soil habitat for soil microbes. It can substitute for liming in acidic soils and has an immediate and long-lasting effect.
In the “with/without” photo above, Vashon Islander Ken Miller shows the difference between sprouting broccoli planted in a bed that contains biochar, and a bed without. He told me the major difference between these beds is the biochar in the bed with the bigger broccoli—even though the other broccoli was planted earlier and in more sunlight. 
I saw Ken demonstrate his biochar stove at the Compost Fest (photos below). His five-gallon metal bucket can, within approx. an hour, render scrap wood like alder or blackberry vines into biochar at temperatures reaching 800°. Similar stoves will be at the Thursday demonstration.
Ken plans on holding a stove-making workshop in January: for a nominal fee of $35-40 (estimated at this time), you will walk away with a biochar stove (see photos of the demonstration below). He says “People should see a demonstration before doing biochar production at home; I’d hate to see somebody go home and light up their garbage can with a bunch of wood in it.”
Here’s a link to a 10-minute video on biochar, showing the burning process and results:
For more information, contact Sustainable Practices chair Kyle Cruver at or phone him at 567-4068. Or contact Ken Miller (my source), who demonstrated his biochar stove at the Compost Fest:

More on BIO-CHAR:

Check out these clips to learn more about bio-char, which can be a great way to boost soil fertility veganically:

This short clip shows organic grower Sean King's low tech method of producing bio-char with a cob oven:

This PBS doc explains biochar in detail, how it works, and how it may revolutionize agriculture...

What is veganic agriculture?

Also called stock-free farming, vegan-organics is a system which avoids all artificial chemical products (synthetic fertiliser, pesticides, growth regulators), genetically modified organisms, animal manures and slaughterhouse by-products (blood, fish meal, bone meal, etc).

DIVA employs the word 'veganiculture' to reflect the integration of vegan-organics, permaculture techniques free of domestic animals, and the cross-cultural adoption of veganism as a dietary and lifestyle choice where possible around the world.