Join us for an educational workshop hosted by Sonoma Ecology Center
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A Workshop and Demonstration


July 25th, 2015


Swallow Valley Farm
1100 Freestone Valley Ford Road
Valley Ford, CA 94972


Hear new perspectives on biochar and soil management, with valuable information for ranchers, land managers, and anyone interested in soil health.  


Sonoma Ecology Center


Join us for an educational workshop on the beautiful Swallow Valley Farm. Participants will have the opportunity to see an operational biochar production unit, called the Adam retort; to see our test plot on pasture land to which we have applied a biochar/compost mixture (and the adjacent control plot with only compost applied); and to learn about our proposed recovery demonstrations using process heat from the retort.
Biochar is a specialized form of charcoal made at relatively high temperatures in the absence of oxygen (in a process termed “pyrolysis”). Combined with compost or similar innoculant, biochar has been demonstrated to improve soil health, retain soil moisture, increase crop yields, and sequester carbon. This workshop and demonstration will show the actual trials occurring at a local farm and provide the opportunity to learn how biochar may be used to improve yield and efficiency.
  • Richard King, Featured Guest Speaker: “Planned Grazing for Soil Health”
  • Nick Colby, PhD, Owner Swallow Valley Farm: “Using Biochar Effectively on a Sheep Pasture”
  • David Morell, PhD, Manager, SEC’s Sonoma County Biochar Project: “Project Goals and Successes to Date”
  • Peter Hirst, Sonoma Biochar Initiative and New England Biochar: “Biochar: What it Is and How it Helps Improve Soil Health and Moisture Retention”
  • Bryan Sesser, SEC: “Saving Water by Applying Biochar to Sonoma Soils: Interim Project Results to Date”
Through funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Sonoma County Water Agency, the Sonoma County Biochar Project features production of biochar from local wood wastes, field-testing of its use and effectiveness at three local farms, as well as demonstration of renewable energy capture and use.
According to Dr. David Morell, Sonoma Ecology Center’s Biochar Project Manager, “Our goal is to test, under real-world farming conditions here in Sonoma County, the worldwide research results on biochar. Those results suggest that biochar, applied properly, with nutrients like those found in compost, can improve soil health, help retain moisture and thus reduce need for irrigation, and sequester carbon. Results locally are just beginning to come in.”
Plans are underway to provide two more workshops at Sonoma County farms where biochar is being tested as well, over the coming months. Those subsequent presentations will continue to share research results and further uses of biochar as this project unfolds.

Please RSVP by contacting Talia Eisen of Sonoma Ecology Center:

Talia Eisen
Communications Manager
Sonoma Ecology Center
P.O. Box 1486, Eldridge, CA 95431
p: 707-996-0712 ext. 122 f.707-996-2452

We ask that participants bring a lunch. We will provide water and iced tea.
About Sonoma Ecology Center
Sonoma Ecology Center was established in 1990 with a mission to work with our community to enhance and sustain ecological health in Sonoma Valley through community-supported research, restoration and education.
Sonoma Ecology Center’s programs and initiatives increase appreciation and stewardship of our natural heritage and create measurable benefits in the areas of water, resources, biodiversity, energy and land use. Information about Sonoma Ecology Center can be found at

About Sonoma Garden Park
Sonoma Garden Park is a six-acre working farm, a model of sustainable agriculture, and the educational campus of Sonoma Ecology Center. Located at 19996 7th Street East in Sonoma, the Garden Park offers a beautiful, natural environment with educational opportunities for both adults and children.

Donated to the City of Sonoma by Pauline Bond and managed by Sonoma Ecology Center, the Garden features a demonstration garden, butterfly garden, fig forest, straw bale barn, over 150 fruit trees, a solar well, interpretive displays and walking trails. Learn more at

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Our mailing address is:
Gold Ridge RCD
2776 Sullivan Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472

p: 707-823-5244     f.707-823-5243 

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