CBA News

Permaculture, Biochar and Soil

Sonoma Garden Park

19996 7th St E, Sonoma, CA 95476

Wednesday Sept. 18th4 P.M.. to 6 P.M.

Join us for an amazing educational event to learn more about permaculture techniques and how biochar and compost blends fit into commercial and/or backyard garden soil management and carbon sequestration strategies.

Two amazing teachers, Matt Powers(The Permaculture Student) and Cuauhtemoc Villa(Bokashi and biochar inoculation master) will get you up to speed on permaculture techniques and how best to prepare and use biochar to improve soil and make it more productive.

SBI‘s Raymond Baltarwill give a brief overview of how you can make biochar yourself and where you can acquire it, in small garden or truckload quantities. We have also invited Khadija Khansiafrom the Local Carbon Network, a biochar outreach and marketing initiative by All Power Labs in Berkeley, to discuss development of local, distributed networks for biochar and biomass energy production.

Why Soil Is the KEY to Climate Restoration with Matt Powers

Deep dive into permaculture soil science and solutions with Matt Powers!

Learn how soil is the lynchpin in our regenerative future – in our environment, climate, economy, food, health, and more!

Learn practical habits and lifehacks to add permaculture to your daily life, garden, business, and future! Learn how we can speed up our carbon sequestration efforts by 10x!!

Educated 1:1 by Dr. Elaine Ingham along with dozens of experts in fields related to soil, Matt brings a diverse and nuanced perspective to soil and permaculture that is unique, advanced, and catching-on – come see the spectrum of soil solutions!

Matt Powers

Author, Teacher, Seed Saver, Entrepreneur, Gardener, & Family Guy



Biochar Inoculation and Application Techniques with Cuauhtemoc Villa

Mr. V, as he likes to be called, has been teaching kids and adults for years about bokashi and how easy it is to improve and maintain very productive soil.  A talented and natural teacher with an amazing ability to merge indigenous knowledge and ways with modern techniques, we are so lucky that Mr. V is willing to travel down from Portland to share his knowledge with us.

Mr. V will be:

Showing gardeners how to best charge biochar depending on soil conditions.

Selecting compost to charge biochar for different growing stages in the garden.

Demonstrating how to use compost tea for charging biochar.

And demonstrating how to use biochar to make a unique soil amendment from Japan referred to as Bokashi.  Bokashi (fermented Organic Matter) utilizes effective microbes (EM) that ferment organic matter in the soil making nutrients more bio-available  for the plants

The Workshop Fee is $20 General Admission, and $10 for students with a current Student ID.  Please register here, and spread the word to your networks if you think there may be interest.

This event is a fundraiser for the Sonoma Biochar Initiative, which is dedicated to the sustainable development of the biochar industry.

For those interested in learning specifically about how biochar can benefit  cannabis cultivation there is a meeting of the Sonoma County Cultivation Group on September 17th at 6 P.M. in Sebastopol where this topic will be discussed.  Speakers will include Cuauhtemoc Villa, Charlie McIntosh of Pacific Biochar, and Raymond Baltar of SBI.Tuesday at 6 PM in the SoCoHA/Radiant Health building in the Gravenstein Station complex (near the Sebastopol Inn and Coffee Catz) on the south side of Highway 12 near the east edge of town. The address  is 6741 Sebastopol Avenue, 95472.

Contact Alexander Carpenter at alexander.carpenter@icloud.comfor more information.

The Sonoma Biochar Initiative would like to thank the amazing cross section of people  who attended and contributed to our recent Biochar Forum at Shone Farm in Sonoma County. Representatives from local RCD’s, NRCS, UC Cooperative Extension, a variety of farms, SCWA, Fire Safe Councils, the Sonoma County Forest Working Group, the County of Sonoma,  two of the largest biochar producers on the West Coast, and many others just interested in how biochar fits into a low-carbon economy, shared ideas and ways to use biochar to solve common problems. Special thanks to Michael Maguire from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research for his update on the exciting grant projects and efforts to quantify biochar’s benefits that are supported through state funding, to Susan Haydon of Sonoma Water for her logistical help, and to Shone Farm for the use of their beautiful space.
Charlie McIntosh of Pacific Biochar presents recent results from SBI’s
DWR grant project at a vineyard near King City, Ca.
We are in the process of building a new coalition of stakeholders to scale biochar education and use both locally and throughout the state, so stay tuned. We will be holding a number of additional meetings in 2019 so if you missed this one you will have other chances to join this growing group of problem solvers seeking a better way to convert our bounty of surplus biomass resources and put them to better use as biochar in agriculture and elsewhere.


The California Strategic Growth Council has awarded two significant grants for biochar-related research. Ken Alex, Ex-Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and SGC Chair said, “The SGC research grants are designed to fill gaps in our knowledge about some of the most promising climate change solutions, and move them more quickly to fruition.” Biochar production and use was highlighted in the most recent IPCC climate change report as one of the least expensive and easily scaled methods of drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, and this recognition has helped bring the biochar story to the forefront of many climate change mitigation discussions and actions. There is, however, much research that still needs to be done to better characterize which types of biochar will persist the longest in varying agricultural soils, under what type of farming protocols, as well as creation of a standardized system for rating biochars based on a set of common criteria and characteristics. Gaining acceptance from the farming community for biochar production and use using surplus biomass will also be critical for scaling its use, and this will also be studied.

These are some of the gaps in our knowledge about biochars that should be better understood and hopefully answered once this climate-change focused research and field trials are completed. Congratulations to Benjamin Z. Houlton of the UC Davis Muir Institute and collaborators who will be working on a $4.7 million grant project entitled “CALIFORNIA COLLABORATIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS: WORKING LANDS INNOVATION CENTER—CATALYZING NEGATIVE CARBON EMISSIONS.” “The Working Lands Innovation Center’s objective is to scale and sustain CO2 capture and GHG emissions reductions by deploying a suite of cutting-edge soil amendment technologies, driving substantial co-benefits for California growers, ranchers, Tribes, communities, the economy, and environment.
This project will increase understanding of the mechanisms and potential for carbon sequestration in soil.” More information on this grant can be found here: And congratulations to Gerardo Diaz of UC Merced and collaborators who will be working on the $3 million grant project entitled “MOBILE BIOCHAR PRODUCTION FOR METHANE EMISSION REDUCTION AND SOIL AMENDMENT.” “The overall goal of this proposal is to determine how biochar can be produced and used in a closed cycle agricultural application to reduce GHG emissions, ameliorate agricultural waste disposal problems, improve the quality of life in low-income and disadvantaged farming and adjacent communities, and identify means to gain acceptance among farmers of small-scale biochar production and use as a sustainable best practice for California agriculture.” More information on this grant can be found here:


On February 16, 2019, in the Watson Hall of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, the piano studio of Dr. Takako Frautschi held a fundraising recital for the California Biochar Association. Organized by Andrew Ying and Liam Riggins, both students at Walnut Hills High School, and a total of 21 children participated. The recital began with a slideshow presentation showcasing the benefits of biochar with a recorded message from the director of the CBA, Raymond Baltar. The performances ranged from elementary pieces such as Honeybee, to the more advanced music of Frédéric Chopin. At the reception, the students posted hearts onto a trifold board along with their contributions, expressing one thing they love about our world that is helped by biochar and received buttons depicting the recital’s mascot, Biocharlie.  It is so heartening to see young people taking actions that help bring attention to climate change and what can be done to address it!


We have some exciting plans for CBA this year and we need your support to help expand our efforts to scale biochar production and use. Check back soon for more details.  Click on the donate button above to make a tax deductible donation.  The Sonoma Ecology Center, a 501C3 with a 25-year track record,  is our fiscal sponsor. Thank you in advance!


If you haven’t yet seen the great film Dirt Rich which profiles some of our good friends (Josiah Hunt, David Morell, Bob Wells) you can stream it for a small fee here:



Biochar Field Day

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), in cooperation with the University of California at David,  recently held a well attended Biochar Field Day near Winters, California.

The event brought together researchers, industry representatives and other interested stakeholders to discuss the feasibility of biochar use in agroecosystems. Presentations highlighted research, showcased available resources, and provided up-to-date information on biochar use in California agriculture. CBA was well represented with a number of members in attendance and a poster presentation was given on CBA’s mission and goals. Members attending were Steve Fehrer from Butte College, Grant Sheve from Oregon Biochar Solutions, Sophia Pant from Butte College, Michael Maguire from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Thor Bailey, Green Carbon Nexus, David Morell and Raymond Baltar from Sonoma Ecology Center, Kevin Foley from Premier Mushrooms, and Bob Norman.


State of California Natural and Working Lands Sector

GHG Reductions and Carbon Sequestration Goals for California’s Forests, Rangelands, Wetlands, and Farms

Natural and Working Lands

Stay Informed


I have found this Biochar Network Twitter feed to have some great links to biochar activities around the world.  Check it out. Raymond Baltar Save Save