Innovative Carbon Sequestering Bioswale with Biochar Installed at Veggielution Community Farm in East San Jose

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Saratoga, California, June 21st, 2024 – Utilizing grant funding from Valley Water, the US Forest Service and CAL FIRE, Earth Foundries, in partnership with ReScape, The North Santa Clara Resource Conservation District, Sonoma Ecology Center, and Veggielution, replaced a failed bioswale at Veggielution Community Farms with a new bioswale incorporating biochar.  The new and improved bioswale will address frequent farm flooding during the rainy season.  Additionally, during the installation ReScape provided classroom and hands on training on regenerative landscaping and bioswale design and installation to community members.  The project will be ReScape Rated, adding to the current of 134 Rated landscapes. As part of the grant project, Earth Foundries will monitor the bioswale to understand further the benefits biochar can provide for stormwater management, soil health, plant growth and water filtration.  At a future date, the North Santa Clara Resource District will provide additional public training on bioswales, and Sonoma Ecology Center will produce guidance on best practices for biochar usage in bioswales.

Instructor Lead

ReScape Instructor and bioswale Installation Lead, Cielo Sichi, preps the volunteer bioswale construction crew. Biochar will be placed in the right section of the bioswale.  Photo: Raymond Baltar

Bioswales are resilient, efficient, low maintenance, and attractive stormwater solutions that use plants, soil and other natural materials to filter stormwater runoff from developed areas, before it enters the natural water system. 

Biochar is a carbon-rich soil amendment produced from sustainably sourced biomass like forest residues. By incorporating biochar into this bioswale system, the partners aim to demonstrate its potential benefits for stormwater remediation, soil revitalization, plant nourishment and removing impurities.

Volunteer Crew

Volunteer crew spreads biochar in one side of the bioswale.  Water samples will be taken over time from each side of the bioswale to determine differences in water quality. Photo: Raymond Baltar

“We’re excited to have this new biochar-enhanced bioswale that will finally solve our yearly flooding problems, protecting food crops that are so important to our mission” said Marie Millares, Facility Director at Veggielution. “We’re also pleased to provide service- based, hands-on training to our community on bioswale design, installation and maintenance.”

Milena Fiore, Executive Director of ReScape added, “This innovative bioswale project aligns with ReScape’s mission of promoting regenerative landscaping in harmony with nature to address climate change and environmental challenges.  This collaborative project also provides an opportunity to train community members on regenerative landscaping principles championed by ReScape.”

The bioswale project is one of four Bay Area projects implemented as a part of Earth Foundries’ US Forest Service and CAL FIRE grant-funded Biochar Market Development program, which aims to showcase the techno-economic advantages of using biochar across various applications. The bioswale at Veggielution replaces an old, failed system that previously caused annual flooding issues on the farm.  Additional funding for the project was provided by Valley Water through the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection program.

“Showcasing the many beneficial uses of biochar in applications like stormwater management is crucial for expanding its market potential,” said Dede Smullen, Chairwoman and Co-Founder of Earth Foundries. “Our company creates biochar from unmerchantable forest materials removed during hazardous fuel reduction and forest health projects.”

 “We’re looking forward to engaging with our communities and providing educational opportunities for them to learn more about this exciting technology,” said Stephanie Moreno, Executive Director of North Santa Clara Resource Conservation District.

 “Biochar is being used in many innovative ways, including as a filtration medium to capture nutrients and heavy metals before they enter our waterways,” said Raymond Baltar, Climate/Biochar Projects Director Sonoma Ecology Center. “Earth Foundries is a local leader in upcycling surplus woody material into biochar for use in beneficial  projects like this bioswale at Veggielution.” 

                                                             Biochar, a highly porous and stable form of organic carbon. 

                                                      Photo: Raymond Baltar

About Grant Partners:

About ReScape  

ReScape is a nonprofit that educates about and advocates for a whole-systems regenerative approach to landscaping that works in harmony with the natural world and addresses the changing environment. ReScape addresses climate change by providing a regenerative, nature-based whole systems watershed foundation for landscaping education, workforce development and policy.  Learn more at www.rescapeca.org.

About Veggielution:

 Veggielution’s mission is to connect people from diverse backgrounds through food and farming to build community in East San Jose.  Veggielution community Farm utilizes a unique community farm model that mobilizes volunteers to cultivate and grow healthy crops, which are then made available to our program participants and other local residents. Our 6-acre community farm and gathering space is located in Emma Prusch Farm Park in the Mayfair neighborhood.  Find out more at https://veggielution.org

About Earth Foundries, Inc.: 

Earth Foundries is a certified woman-owned and certified B corporation.  Our mission is to help end California’s catastrophic wildfire threat by reducing the cost and carbon footprint of landscape scale forest health/vegetation management projects.  Earth Foundries is processing unmerchantable forest material from hazardous fuels reduction projects into biochar on site and at scale with their Slash AttackTM service.  The Veggielution Bioswale project is one of Earth Foundries four grant-funded Biochar Market Development projects which aim to demonstrate the techno-economic benefits of using biochar in multiple, high-volume applications with the goal of expanding the market for biochar.  Find out more about Earth Foundries at https://www.earthfoundriesinc.com.

About North Santa Clara Resource Conservation District

North Santa Clara Resource Conservation District (NSCRCD) is an independent special district of the state of California dedicated to the conservation of natural resources in Santa Clara County. The primary purpose of California’s RCDs under the Public Resources Code is to secure “the adoption of conservation practices, including but not limited to, farm, range, open space, urban development, wildlife, recreation, watershed, water quality and woodlands.” More information can be found at https://www.rcdsantaclara.org/north-santa-clara-rcd.

About Sonoma Ecology Center

Since 1990, Sonoma Ecology Center has worked to increase appreciation and stewardship of Sonoma Valley’s natural heritage and create measurable benefits in areas of land, water, climate change, community, and biodiversity. Our mission is to work with our community to identify and lead actions that achieve and sustain ecological health in Sonoma Valley. Learn more at www.sonomaecologycenter.org

About Funding Organizations/Grant Partners

Funding for this project was provided by The United States Forest Service through the Wood Innovation Grant program, CAL FIRE through the Workforce and Business Development grant program and Valley Water through the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection grant program.  In addition, grant partners provided in kind and as well as monetary contributions to the project.

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