May 23, 2021
Friendly Trees Protect the Earth and Feed Farmers
When we started working in the Mae Chaem District, our focus was to stop the burning of the huge piles of corn waste so that we could stop the smoke forcing us to breathe through masks many miles away.
In addition to the PM2.5 pollution, the large-scale cultivation of corn has also created a number of devastating local environmental problems.
- Huge areas of forests have been cleared to make room for growing corn.
- Biodiversity has suffered as animal and bird habitats are destroyed.
- Soils have become depleted. They absorb less and less rainwater as forest trees that once allowed water to penetrate the soil are removed. Corn is planted thinly and – unlike the trees it replaces – provides no protection for the soil, which becomes brick-hard when wetted and sun-dried.
- This has destroyed watersheds, as the rainwater that once soaked into the ground now runs off rapidly, eroding fields and causing flooding downstream in the Center and South of Thailand.
We’ve talked with the farmers in the villages where we have been working and they are looking for alternative crops to grow. But the risks of starting new crops are high and farmers have failed in the recent past with programs suggested by outside parties. Farmers commonly have a “show me” mentality, to reduce risk.
Based on our past approach – working closely with the village council, we have an initial set of farmers, who have clear title to their mountain fields. After a review of several alternative crops, the farmers and our staff have decided to test native shade trees with coffee, cocoa, tea, and other trees recommended by experts familiar with the local terrain. The farmers will be able to plant shorter-term crops around the edges of the new forests.
Your donations to support this year’s Stop the Smoke! Campaign will get these farmers started. This year they will prepare the land – creating swales with biochar embedded in the soil to start collecting water. An initial set of trees is being purchased and will go into the ground to take advantage of the upcoming rainy season.
With gratitude for your enduring support of our work!
Dana, Michael, Evelind, and the Warm Heart Family
January 25, 2021
Stop the Smoke Campaign 2021
Warm Heart’s Stop the Smoke campaign focuses on removing the source of the smoke before it becomes a problem.
Our solution has been to provide farmers a way to benefit from their crop waste by turning it into a profitable product, biochar.
The process of turning crop waste into biochar is smoke-free and produces a product that has a multitude of beneficial uses.
The farmers we have worked with in the past will continue this year to convert their crop waste into biochar. They have reaped the benefits of adding biochar to their fields to improve soil conditions and increase crop yields.
Our goal this year is to continue to reach out to more farmers to increase the amount of crop waste that is turned into biochar, helping to eliminate more smoke from being generated through open field burning.
We are also developing a comprehensive project that will have even bigger, long term impacts on cleaning our air by reducing the amount of crop waste generated every year from corn crops.
Warm Heart will be leading a joint effort to restore forest land that has been used primarily for corn production with crops that produce far less waste and provide sustainable economic growth for the farming communities.
Our partners in this project include Shangri-La Hotel of Chiang Mai, Pacific Basin Economic Council, Kad Kokoa, and Monsoon Tea.
We will be putting forth a plan of agroforestry that will include rebuilding our forest lands with the following crops:
o Thai select cocoa
o Thai coffee
o Forest tea
o Pic Thai, green and black peppers
o Traditional tree fruits
Biochar will play a big role in preparing the soils. We will be working directly with select farmers to establish models to demonstrate how agroforestry can restore biodiversity, improve our water systems, create sustainable economic value, and yes, stop the smoke.
We hope you will join us again this year with your continuing financial support and help us Stop the Smoke!
Michael, Evelind, Dana, and the Stop the Smoke team
September 26, 2020
Biochar is Improving Food Security – Enriching the Soil, Nurturing Healthy Farm Animals
Everyone benefits when biochar is made because it reduces the smoke that fills our air!
The biochar itself has many beneficial uses, including improving our soils for better crop yields. It is also a great way to keep livestock and poultry healthy by adding it to their feed and living area.
In Northern Thailand, the rainy season arrived, and the summer months, when it is too wet to burn and make biochar, were spent using the biochar to improve soils and food security. Our programs made more than 100,000 kg* of biochar (100 tons) this year before the rains started.
With Covid19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, many people left the cities for their farming villages. The biochar team worked with local organizations on distribution to remote villages to be used in planting crops, making fertilizer, and animal feed.
In Mae Chaem, we traded biochar for a fertilizer that the local women’s cooperative is making from crop waste compost and biochar. We teamed up with the coffee growers, Akha Ama Coffee, on distribution and training in mountain villages in Chiang Rai province.
The Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, our first Corporate Sponsor, is having a huge impact with their donations of biochar to a tree planting reforestation program. (You can read about their success in our Environmental Progress Newsletter.) Their donation to the Chiang Mai Urban Farm is cleaning the water in a local canal and producing vegetables for urban dwellers shut out of jobs.
Since the beginning of June, our partners in Kenya and Malawi have held 28 training sessions, expanding their network by over 1,000 trained farmers. As the word is getting out about the benefits of biochar, and how easy it is to make, people are lining up to learn how to do it. Free training covers building a TLUD (from recycled oil barrel) and the simplified trench method, as well as how to use the biochar for fertilizer and in animal feed.
The beauty of the biochar program is that it is simple and can be adopted anywhere there is agricultural burning.
Your investment in this program makes the world a better place. We appreciate your enduring support; this is not an overnight solution but will take time to spread until making biochar instead of open field burning becomes standard practice, around the world. Thank you!
*Each ton of biochar keeps 5 tons of corn waste from being turned into particles of smoke – at 6.26 kg of PM2.5 particles per ton of waste, that’s 31.3 kg of smoke that is not going into the air each day. Each of those kilograms of smoke is the equivalent of 71,429 cigarettes. In addition, greenhouse gases have been burned off before they go into the atmosphere.
June 2, 2020
Lockdown Does Not Mean Shutdown!
We said, “Do something to Stop the Smoke!” Shangri-La Did!
Keeping up with Gabriele Lombardo, General Manager of the Shangri-La Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is hard. The wiry Sicilian never stops and never stops doing and doing and doing….
Warm Heart sat down with Mr. Lombardo in October 2019 to show him the terrible human and economic damage Chiang Mai’s “burning” or “smoke” season does to North Thailand and the hospitality industry, he understood immediately. When Warm Heart explained how the great hotels of Chiang Mai could stop the smoke, he said, “We will do it.”
So began the Shangri-La “Stop the Smoke” project that with Covid-19 has also become an important employment and jobs training program. Shangri-La supported the creation of two community-based biochar making businesses and bought their first 50 tonnes of biochar production. This alone gave a large number of unemployed young men in very poor villages an amazing 300,000 baht ($10,000) over two months and stopped – as in entirely kept from happening – the release of 313 kg of PM2.5, the killer component of smoke. (Lest you have a hard time imagining a kilogram of smoke, a single kg of smoke is equivalent to the smoke of 71,429 cigarettes.)
Then Covid-19 arrived.
The country went on lockdown. Tourism stopped. Hotels closed.
Hundreds of thousands of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, street venders, guides, chamber maids and waiters had no jobs. They did what people do – they returned to their home villages. But in the hot season, there were no jobs in the countryside and little food.
What do you do with 50 tonnes of biochar?
Donate it, sure, but to whom?
With assistance from Aom Kwanpirom, Warm Heart Biochar Project Director, Shangri-La sought out small organizations training the urban unemployed to become farmers and either starting urban farms on empty plots or degraded soil near home. What these organizations need most is high quality soil amendment material to provide fertility to future gardens. What they need is ground biochar mixed with organic matter.
Suddenly, 50 tonnes did not look like enough biochar. Warm Heart found itself wondering how much of its own reserves were going to be needed!
Distribution started on May 29, with Warm Heart and Shangri-La staff volunteers helping with the hand-over and application.
February 3, 2020
The rains have stopped, and our teams are out making biochar from their corn waste – removing many tons of smoke from the air! Our first storage shed is ready to take in the output. Your donations have given us the momentum to attract additional groups to support our work and open markets for biochar products.
We started with one village and another village that we trained last year, has gone ahead to make biochar on their own. In Mae Wak, we have the corn waste of 130 families in huge piles ready to burn. The village set up a team of young men with 50 TLUD barrels from Warm Heart to make biochar instead of smoke. They make 500 kg, half a metric ton every day. The second village, Mae Na Chon is also making around half a ton of biochar a day.
[This daily ton equates to 5 tons of corn waste turned into biochar daily – at 6.26 kg of PM2.5 particles per ton of waste, that’s 31.3 kg of smoke that is not going into the air each day. Each of those kilograms of smoke is the equivalent of 71,429 cigarettes. In addition, greenhouse gases have been burned off before they go into the atmosphere.]
As the tourist industry is hit by the haze from the smoke – our once beautiful cities have grey skies and terrible air pollution – the local governments and hotel industry are partnering to address the issues. Warm Heart presented its program to have villages make biochar in exchange for advance commitments from business sponsors. This will help create markets for biochar and biochar products that have been a key component in the successful growth of biochar production.
Thanks to your support, we have an established program with feet on the ground and clear outcomes. Funding for additional villages to make biochar has been pledged and the specific plans are being completed.
Please tell your friends and keep the support coming in!
November 7, 2019
A Little Help From Our Friends
Our project in Mae Chaem is going strong. We are in the process of setting up storage for upcoming biochar. Mae Wak will start making biochar in December.
We have trained 141 people to make biochar so far.The estimated amount of biochar that will be created this year is 50 tons!
We provided 10 tons of biochar mix to Mae Wak and now results are getting back to us that biochar is working well with their crops (Eggplant, green long bean, basil, pumpkin, cucumber, and flower).
The only way this solution will succeed is if a strong market is established for biochar. Our social enterprise programs are a great start to turning biochar into marketable products that will provide local employment and encourage farmers to make and sell their biochar to the social enterprises.
Meanwhile, in Africa, the Warm Heart Malawi Biochar Project has more than doubled the number of farmers it has reached, has been tasked by Government with an important national training mission, and has established Warm Heart Kenya and its first five training centers.
In Ghana, the Rural Renaissance Warm Heart Foundation is analyzing the first data from its test plots and preparing a grant proposal for USAID. We are working hard to spread the biochar solution not just here at home, but far and wide, as every farmer who converts to making biochar instead of open field burning is a win for the environment and the local communities.Your support has made this all happen.
We are so grateful for your initial contribution to our campaign. We are far from the finish line and are still seeking further funding to reach our goals. Together we can make it happen!Please continue your support with any amount of donation that you can afford.
Evelind and Michael
August 12, 2019
Warm Heart is very grateful to have been invited to join this year’s inaugural Climate Action Fund project. We will be highlighting updates for you as this new program evolves.
In the meantime, lots of progress! Aom, our project manager, has been hard at work in Mae Wak village, Mae Chaem. The folks there are making the most of the 10 tonnes of biochar fertilizer we donated. She also has a couple of teams making char as fast as they can before the rain starts.
Now that the rain has finally come, the growing season has begun, kicking off the cycle that leads to the burning season.
We are setting up one Community Social Enterprise to be ready to divert as much crop burning into biochar creation as possible.
Establishing a market for the biochar
Our biochar product line will soon be available in the largest “green” retailer in Chiang Mai, Rimping Markets. The price is competitive with “dirty” charcoal. But ours burns smoke-free, burns hotter, lasts longer, environmental contributor to improving our world. Establishing a market for the biochar is crucial to the success of the future Social Enterprises.
Moving to the Fast Lane
Warm Heart has the solution to the smoky season problem, a win-win fix that just needs to spread far and wide.
Shangri-la, one of Chiang Mai’s premiere resorts, recognizes the solution and has reached out to Warm Heart to help us put our solution to work on a broader scale. We will be working together with the heavy hitters in the community, to get everyone’s help setting up Biochar Social Enterprise Co-ops all across Northern Thailand.
But that is not all that has been going on.
Across the Globe
Our partners in Africa are making great strides in sharing and spreading biochar, teaching hundreds of farmers how to make and use biochar.
And they are having great results, too!
Thank you for your support. We need to continually be widening our audience. Please share with at least 1 friend!
Evelind and Michael
May 13, 2019
Fantastic news and a little bit of gosh darn!
Our first Farmer’s Cooperative is fully funded!
A huge thank you, YOU helped make this happen!
Our project is underway!
Momentum is picking up, our Project Manager, Aom Kwanpirom Suksri, has moved on site and has officially begun organization of our first farmer biochar cooperative. Our goal is to set up a replicable model and help establish 9 more co-ops. We are on our way to funding a second co-op.
Aom was instrumental in the success of our preliminary Mae Chaem project in 2017. From teaching farmers how to make biochar ovens to overseeing the whole project, Aom helped lead farmers to make 150 tons of biochar.
Aom is totally dedicated to biochar and community development. Follow her on Facebook (links below)
As far as the gosh darn news, we held 2nd place in the Climate Fund Challenge up until the last few hours, when we dropped to third. Big thanks to everyone who helped pull in last minute donations to try and hang on to that coveted 2nd Place.
All is not lost yet. GlobalGiving will be choosing 4 Projects from the top 20 to join #1 and 2 in the year long Climate Fund project. SO we are keeping our fingers crossed!
We are so excited to start this project, may it be the first step in bringing about real change in the Agricultural practice of open field burning. We invite you to take this journey with us!
Evelind and Michael
P.S. Want to continue to have a big impact on the success of this project? Choose an amount, $10, $15, $25, set it up as a recurring donation, and in the 4th month GlobalGiving will match your donation!