Two years ago I cut down 4 acres of trees. 

That's Steve Bensel. Steve runs Nootka Rose Farm with his wife Linnea and their farm partner Lay.

When Steve first came by the clearing he just looked down at the ground and shook his head. He asked what I was planning to do with all that wood. I said I didn't know. 

He suggested I might look into charcoal. A student of native Salish agricultural practices that involved burning, Steve described what our forests would have looked like at contact. 

Steve told me about a garden on Sandy Point the old-timers on the island say they saw camas growing in before the land was homesteaded back in the 1940's. The garden is known as one of the most lush on the island, but the soil surrounding it is true to its name - sand. If you put your hand in the soil it comes back the color of charcoal. 

To hear more from Steve on the cultural practices of charcoal please click below.