• Accokeek Foundation

Permaculture Design Certificate Course – UPDATE

This past weekend, Permaculture course participants studied Natural Building and Passive Solar Energy at the Ecosystem Farm in Piscataway Park.  Activities included building a cold frame and a worm bin, covering a hoop house, planting cover crops at our Persimmon guild and making Biochar, an ancient soil amendment.


Loose brush is burned inside a homemade furnace and removed before being buried.


Biochar is a kind of charcoal, which converts agricultural waste, or in this case, tree branches, into a valuable soil enhancer, which sequesters carbon and can re-mediate contaminated soil. Native peoples of the Amazon River basin used this “Terra Preta” for hundreds of years to produce dark fertile agricultural soil.  It can be made by using a home-made kiln with metal drums, or by lighting a fire to organic material at a garden bed, then burying it with soil to remove the oxygen and hold in the heat.  The baked product is carbon-rich biochar.