The re:char Shamba

In November, re:char leased a nearly 6-acre piece of land in Bungoma, Kenya. Located on the highway less than a kilometer from downtown Bungoma, the property is ideally situated. Farmers from town and the interior can easily arrive by public transport, and larger 18-wheeler transporters can also conveniently pull off from the road that connects Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, and the border of Uganda.

The site will be re:char’s primary hub for product fabrication in western Kenya. Here, Luke, Paul Manda (a recently hired engineer) and other future re:char employees will operate out of a spruced up 20-foot container to produce the Rutuba biochar kiln and other future products. Perhaps the highlight of the workshop will be what it contains: a CNC plasma cutter. Although I have a feeling Luke would probably say the highlight(s) are his designs to change the shipping container into a comfortable and trendy workspace. See the previous post.

Before: As we looked at the property for the first time, this spot would end up being the location for our container workshop.

 

After: A concrete slab down that will host our container workshop surrounded by cleared land.

 

In addition to serving as a production site, the land will teach farmers about the benefits of biochar. Come March, visitors will find test plots that demonstrate side-by-side plots of regular and biochar-enhanced (of differing degrees) soils, in which varying levels and types of fertilizer will be controlled. re:char is planning to enlist the help of Cornell University to ensure that the test plots are scientifically rigorous and suitable for publication. The test plots will allow farmers and other interested parties to see with their own eyes the improvements biochar could make to their fields.

Before: An image of the brush on the shamba before we hired local labor to help clear the land in preparation for plowing.

 

After: A picture of the field being cleared of the brush. In three hours, over three acres of brush was cleared!

If farmers like what they see, they will be able to purchase biochar-producing Rutuba kilns in an on-location retail store. re:char plans to do regular, well-publicized demos of the kiln and how to properly add biochar to the soil.

We have already gotten to work on the field, preparing it for January when the workshop will arrive and field preparation begins for the upcoming “long-rains” season.

We welcome all visitors to see the site – especially once we have it fully operational by mid-January!

 

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