How’s it cooking?

This update to our story Pursuing a Breath of Fresh Air about how a local 5 Star resort, 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, is setting the trend for moving beyond “Going Green”, they have embraced “Doing Green” with a Backyard Biochar System.

The new system they are using for addressing their biomass waste (i.e. tree clippings, dead leaves, yard clippings, dead branches) is contributing to cleaning the air in Chiang Mai, reducing the amount of Co2 released in our atmosphere, lowering their fertilizer expensive, saving money on water, while enriching their grounds with healthy soil and flourishing their

Their simple and inexpensive Biochar system is a cost effective and environmentally progressive program that can be replicated anywhere there is a source of biomass that needs to be disposed of.

“Doing Green’ can be applied on any scale – home gardens, farm, ranches, resorts, golf courses, forestry programs, city parks, public works, if you have biomass to dispose of, you can benefit from your own Biochar Program.

The U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai recently made the leap to “Doing Green”, we will be setting up their own Backyard Biochar System.

Follow the tips to get started with our guide “Setting Up a Successful Biochar Program

Biochar success story

by Gordon Hirst

About six months ago I was contacted by Anne Arrowsmith, the General Manager at 137 Pillars, a stunning five star hotel located just east of the Ping River. The hotel, which sits in ½ ha of grounds, had an inherent problem with what to do with all the garden waste that Son, the head gardener, and his team generated to keep the gardens immaculate.

When Anne first arrived at 137 Pillars, the general procedure was to dump garden waste in a walled enclosure to the east of the property, where it was left to rot, creating an eyesore. The waste biomass consisted tree clippings, dead leaves and bamboo, and dead and dying palm fronds.

137 Pillars House

137 Pillars House

After hearing about the Warm Heart Foundation’s work with Biochar, she wondered if it was possible to do something more practical with the large amount of waste that had accumulated. A training session was organized and a Warm Heart team introduced the gardening team to making biochar. The 137 gardeners learned to use a 56 gal drum TLUD, better known as J-Ro and a ‘flame cap’ trough developed by Dr. Karl Frogner, Warm Heart’s lead designer. The program also included using the biochar to make enhanced compost from dead leaves, grass and flowers unsuitable for charring.

I returned there this week to see how the program was going and was just amazed. Son said he was doing about two burns a week in the dry season using both the J-Ro and the flame cap for the tree clippings and higher density waste and the low density going straight into compost with a liberal spraying of EM (effective microorganisms).

The result is a production line of the highest quality compost I have seen in Asia, the presence of multitudes of worms attracted to the compost piles attesting to the quality. With the combination of Anne’s tenacity to get this off the ground and Son’s and his team immediate taking to the concept of biochar based composting, the hotel is now generating its own very effective garden treatment whilst simultaneously overcoming a huge biomass waste problem.