Biochar is a form of charcoal, which is pesticide-free and injects carbon back into the soil, making it fertile once again, reversing the damage brought on by conventional farming.
Christer Soderberg, co-founder, Circle Carbon is working alongside Samuel Gough, Eddie Hart’s partner at El Camino, which serves local seasonal produce as well as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables.
Brother’s Eddie and Sam Hart are the proprietors of London’s acclaimed tapas restaurants, Barrafina, one on Soho’s Dean Street, two in Covent Garden’s Adelaide Street and Drury Lane, and launched a fourth in Kings Cross this month as well as Quo Vadis, El Pastor and The Drop and Eddie owns El Camino.
Thanks to Soderberg, the island of Mallorca, created its first Kon-Tiki kiln, made locally using an open-source design from the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence, to produce high-quality biochar in large quantities (up to one ton/day) for production of organic substrate and Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS).
He has also been working with Craig Sam's, former co-owner Green & Black's chocolate and now of owner Carbon Gold biochar.
“Eddie and his partner, Samuel Gough, are in conversation with Christer Soderberg, with a view to producing fruit and vegetables for their restaurant El Camino using biochar,” a spokeswoman for Hart said.
“They are naturally concerned about the environment, their carbon footprint and the source of their food - the expert is of course Christer who has been telling them about the benefits of carbon negative.
“Mallorca is very rich in terms of local produce (meat, fish, fruit, vegetables) and so they are naturally keen to explore delicious salad leaves which are currently not available locally as well as more exotic things in the future.”
'Ecopreneur' award winner
Soderberg said Mallorca used to practice an ancient method of 'Formiguers' similar to charcoal-kilns that were used to burn piles of biomass with a soil cover to fertilize their land but the burning of 'formiguers' required the harvest of vegetation from a considerable forest area and was in fact destroying land.
Now Soderberg has been championing the cause speaking to local Government ministers, organizing workshops to educate farmers and locals on the benefits of biochar and winner of the Ecopreneur for the Climate Award 2017 (UIB, Mallorca).
He has now opened a 7,500m2 plantation called Circle Carbon Labs including 2,000m2 of demonstration gardens to show the differences between using a biochar-based substrate and regular organic agriculture.
Circle Carbon expects to have its first harvest and will sell its own branded products in 2019 also launching a shop.
“We have used the first kontiki kiln to produce biochar and it has been very successful, where we have planted pistachio, moringa, apricot, walnut, and pongamia trees. We are also working with organic wineries to make their vineyards carbon negative,” added Soderberg.
“We are preparing the demonstration gardens to invite local farmers and representatives from the Government. We want to go out to farms on the island to show them how to produce their own biochar and we have space for 250 community gardens on site for people to grow their own private-label produce.
“We want to replicate this project as fast as possible. The only way to make a change is to show these results and show them to the farmers and for them to taste the produce themselves to see the difference.”
Soderberg appeared with Craig Sam's in a joint session called 'Bringing Biochar to the Balearics' at Amorevore Food & Arts Festival (October 26-28) in Ibiza, Spain.