Mar 10, 2012

Grow More Food & Fight Climate Change: Black Revolution by jaramburu — Kickstarter

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Black Revolution is a soilless growth media for plants containing biochar, coconut husk and compost. Biochar is a charcoal soil amendment made from waste that improves nutrient retention, offsets CO2 and has the potential to help feed our growing planet. Black Revolution is the world's first carbon-negative replacement for soil made entirely from waste. It's lighter than traditional soil, so it works great in rooftop or urban environments. The potting soil and chemical fertilizer industries are traditionally some of the most environmentally destructive in the world. Chemical fertilizers require massive amounts of fossil fuels and pollute our rivers and streams. Potting soils contain peat moss and vermiculite: non-renewable resources mined from endangered areas around the world.

With your help, we can get Black Revolution into gardens, raised beds, urban farms and houseplants across the country. Not only will you get to grow more food but you'll also be helping us reduce atmospheric carbon!


"If you could continually turn a lot of organic matter into biochar, you could, over time, reverse the history of the last two-hundred years."-- Bill McKibben

"Biochar, produced in pyrolysis of residues from crops, forestry, and animal wastes, can be used to restore soil fertility while storing carbon for centuries to millennia."-- Dr. James Hansen (NASA climate scientist).

"There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal."-- Dr. James Lovelock (Climate scientist and originator of the Gaia theory)

"Biochar is an excellent way of getting a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere."-- Sir Richard Branson

Biochar is charcoal produced at high temperatures (400 C or greater) from waste products (wood waste, crop waste etc). It was developed by ancient farmers in the Amazon Basin nearly 3,000 years ago. These farmers successfully fed cities of millions of people by growing food on marginal croplands upgraded with biochar.

Biochar grabs onto nutrients and water in soil that would normally just wash away and holds them right where plants need them. It improves soils ability to grow food up to 200%. Unfortunately, raw biochar is a bit hard for most novice gardeners to use without training. That's why we've created Black Revolution, the world's first carbon-negative replacement for soil. The biochar is already prepared and blended into the product, creating the optimal growing media for your plants.

Biochar is also one of the most exciting tools we have to fight global climate change. Biochar is made from waste products (wood chips, corn husks, stalks etc) that are normally burned or left to rot in the field. Traditionally, these waste products will decompose and release carbon into the atmosphere (CO2 or methane) which contributes to climate change. However, if we convert these wastes into biochar, they can't decompose back into CO2, since microorganisms are not very efficient at breaking down charcoal. On a global scale, biochar has massive potential to roll back the effects of climate change. A 2010 study in the scientific journal Nature shows a potential to offset 12% of global CO2 emissions via biochar!


Black Revolution outperforms traditional potting soil in nutrient retention, water retention and yield. The mix of biochar, coconut waste and compost acts like a magnet for nutrients and water, keeping them right where plants need them. It is also pH-balanced for optimal growth, and improves cation exchange capacity (a complex soil science term-- it means it makes it easier for plants to take up nutrients).

Plants love Black Revolution, roots love it and so will you. Use it as a soil amendment or in place of soil. Just add seeds, water and grow food. You can even grow plants directly in the burlap sack in your apartment or fire-escape. No additional fertilizer or modification required.

We've been working with subsistence farmers in Western Kenya for the past year to learn as much as we can about biochar and black revolution. We've found it can help them grow up to 200% more food.


Each bag of Black Revolution contains enough carbon-negative biochar to offset significant CO2 emissions. Our smallest bags are equivalent to rolling back the emissions from 5-6 miles of driving a US automobile. For our larger bags, the offset is approximately 61 miles. While these numbers are only a small part of our annual emissions, every little bit helps. A revolution starts with a first step.


Now, we want to find out how well biochar can work in domestic gardening and small-scale farming. We seek growers of all sizes (potted plants up to small farmers) and all skill levels to test out Black Revolution on their crops and report back to us. By backing our campaign, you will become part of the biggest trial in the US to evaluate the effectiveness of biochar for domestic farmers and gardeners. We will ask backers to measure the height and yield of their plants at multiple points for publication into a comprehensive study. We will also determine how much carbon we have all offset through the use of Black Revolution. All backers will receive results of the study upon completion and name recognition in the full-length draft of the study.

Depending on your desired level of participation and pledge, you will receive a corresponding supply of Black Revolution (see rewards for details) along with planting instructions and support during the study. You will receive your bag in time for the fall season of planting. A limited number of rush bags are available for spring and summer planting. We expect to publish the results of our study by January 1st 2013.


We can build distributed biochar production facilities inside 20' shipping containers. This means we can send production equipment directly where the demand exists. If we can raise $5,000 on Kickstarter, we can produce a run of Black Revolution for a far-reaching and impactful test here in the United States. However, if we can raise $22,000 or more, we can actually build a new production container right in the thick of demand, and kickstart production of the product. This means truly local production and reduced transportation. Your support will determine how we scale!


The first agricultural revolution, dubbed the 'neolithic revolution,' was the domestication of food crops around 10,000 BC. The second agricultural revolution was the 'green revolution' in the 1930s and 40s which led to the development of chemical fertilizers produced from fossil fuels. Biochar is the next great tool in the world's agricultural toolkit, and will help shape a revolutionary future of abundance, fertility and climate-stability. And it turns your soil black :)


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