Celebrating 10 Years
July 4th, 2018 marks the 10th Anniversary of the birth of Warm Heart Foundation. The Warm Heart Foundation was founded by Dr. D. Michael Shafer and Evelind Schecter to help the people of Phrao help themselves.
The initial main projects included a microenterprise program, education, and public health. The foundation provides a home for children from surrounding Hill Tribes and mountain communities that don’t have access to an education.
“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Helping the Local Farmers
Early on Warm Heart knew they wanted to grow their own organic food to help feed the children living in their homes. From this seed their Environmental Program has blossomed.
Local farmers were struggling to survive, unable to generate enough income to support their families. Outdated farming practices were failing, soils were depleted, plus they now had the worry of an unstable environment and unreliable water supply.
In collaboration with the village of T.Maepang and with the support of the Tessabon, experts from the Ampure, ECHO Asia, Chiang Mai University and universities overseas Warm Heart pulled together a core group working towards learning better farming practices.
The Demonstration Farm provides local farmers hands-on training with new, organic ways of farming, new farming techniques and new crops, and to learn useful subjects such as farm and family budgeting. The farm allows them to try many ideas and pick just the ones that work here on local farms.
Working with the farmers on new farming techniques was just the beginning.
The period right after harvesting became a whole new issue that needed to be addressed and changed.
Striving for a better environment
Harvest time creates a major pollution problem when farmers burn their crop residue in the fields. Not only is the local environment inundated with harmful air from all the smoke, it is a major contributor to Global Warming.
Warm Heart knew that banning fires was not a solution. Farmers needed a way to remove the crop residue. They began looking into biochar as a potential solution.
Biochar Research and Development
Warm Heart began a R&D program to find a solution to offer the farmers an alternative to open field crop burning. The result was a biochar oven that was cheap and easy to build, that farmers could use to dispose of their waste, eliminating all the smoke.
Through a grant from the US Embassy in October 2015, Warm Heart was able to launch a demonstration platform for local officials and offer training programs to teach local farmers how to build and use biochar ovens. Videos and PDF’s were created to share the information as wide as possible.
Warm Heart has provided training locally to farmer groups, high school students (our next generation of farmers), individual businesses, women’s groups, and as far away as Malaysia and China.
Added Benefits of Biochar
Eliminating the smoke was a strong motive for the R&D. While that may have been the initial motivation, the biochar itself emerged as a true benefit for the farmers.
Putting the biochar back in their land gave their soil a tremendous boost, improving crops, reducing need for commercial fertilizers, better water retention.
Turning crop waste into biochar also creates a new source of income for farmers. Biochar’s many useful benefits puts a dollar value on the crop residue that in the past was simply burned away.
Expansion of Biochar Project
In 2016 Warm Heart received a grant from the Canadian Government to launch a program in Mae Chaem working with a group of farmers to test the feasibility of large scale switch from open field burning to a biochar system.
Warm Heart provided the materials and the farmers made 250 barrel biochar ovens. Few people were available to make biochar until the end of December because every extended family group was out picking. As the picking season peaked, farmers flocked to the barrels. To the amazement of one and all, in the end, the farmers made 15,000 bags of biochar, providing Warm Heart the material to experiment with making products ranging from organic fertilizers to smokeless cooking briquettes. Farmers and urban buyers alike love these products!
The success of Warm Heart’s new biochar and biochar-based products led it to form “Rak Din,” a complete business model for a community-scale social enterprise to produce biochar and biochar-based products. Warm Heart is currently testing the model “on itself” as a way to increase its own self-sustainability but hopes to secure social impact investment funds to be able to grow the concept into additional countries in order to use replication to (1) provide broad-based income gains for small, poor farmers and (2) reduce open field crop waste burning and therefore cool the climate, clean the environment and improve public health.
Warm Heart Worldwide, Inc. is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions to Warm Heart Worldwide are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Ever ask yourself what more you can do to help the environment? Here are some great answers to that question!
Chiang Mai Citylife
The Heart Warming Story of Warm Heart Foundation
by Aydan Stuart
July 1, 2018
“What you must understand is, we’re not a normal family,” said Michael Shafer during a visit to the Warm Heart Foundation, found in the mountains of Phrao. Although featured before in Citylife, we have never spent time looking at the foundation as a whole, focusing mainly on their environmental efforts.
Many may know this foundation as the biochar guys, a key player in the fight against smoke, but if we step back, we see they do a lot more than biochar, which actually is just a side project. Last month marked their ten year anniversary, and we thought we’d pay Shafer and his wife Evelind Schecter a visit to find out what Warm Heart is all about. (Read full story)
Help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary
Our programs depend on support from people like you. Please help us to continue our Environmental Programs. Together we can make a difference!
August 2016 (First Edition)