The San Juan Islands hold the potential to illustrate a coordinated model for researching charcoal in agricultural soils. Forage has constructed a network of specialists for this project:

  • 12 Farms on Orcas, San Juan, and Waldron
  • Connections to  350 tons of free wood waste material annually through forest management companies and the local logging industry
  • The University of Washington School of Environmental and Forestry Sciences to do soil research
  • The Socrata open-source data platform to aggregate, analyze, and visualize data

If we can understand and illustrate the effectiveness of agricultural charcoal in San Juan soils, we can generate a market for agricultural charcoal from the hundreds of tons of wood waste that is currently being burned in our area every year. More importantly, we can illustrate a model that other communities can use to generate charcoal. And with our open-source Socrata platform, we can continue to get larger and larger amounts of data on the most effective ways to produce and use biochar.


We are looking for up to 30 gardeners in San Juan County interested in participating in our research. Gardeners will receive charcoal for two square meter test plots, as well as 2 soil tests per year from the University of Washington, with a personalized summary of how your soil is changing over time. To be involved, please contact us

Potential Impact

The project could create an upcycle charcoal industry in San Juan County. If all 350 tons of wood waste were converted into charcoal, the project would remove more than 1,000,000 pounds of Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere each year. By generating a market for this product, Orcas could reduce fertilizer costs for farmers while providing a long-term investment in its food system. 


We’re trying to raise $25,000.

$6,000 for producing 8 yards of charcoal for testing

$11,000 for soil testing with the University of Washington

$8,000 for telling the story

All donations are tax-deductible. Thank you. 

San Juan Char