Day 238: Athens: Eprida and The Farm…

I’ve long been curious about the town of Athens, GA, mostly bc it’s the birthplace of the B52’s and REM, two of my favorite bands growing up. We did not see Michael Stipe. But we did stop long enough to see how a little company called Eprida is sequestering carbon by converting different kinds of biomass into charcoal, then using the charcoal as a soil supplement (it is extremely slow to break down but immediately improves the soil). Additionally, the process captures the resulting waste smoke and steam, turning it into syngas, and hydrogen (for energy), among other things. I confess I do not completely understand what happens in this process, so I am including an interesting charcoal-to-syngas link in case it might provide some clarity for those who are interested in finding out more…

Rebecca Oglesby met us and showed us around, explaining that all is still in the research phase at their facility but, as they move forward, she hopes this will become a viable technology for small-scale farmers who are looking for better ways to improve soil and who are concerned about CO2 emissions and our changing climate. Rebecca also pointed us to the whole BIOCHAR community, called the International Biochar Initiative, that is always working to find more beneficial, sustainable uses for charcoal…

After a short demonstration of how “Bertha,” the charcoal-making machine, does her thing, and some cool audio recording of Bertha’s whistles, clanks, and hoots, Rebecca sent us off in the direction of downtown Athens and an eatery called Farm 255, which is local in every sense of the word, sourcing about 75% of its food from its own organic farm. We enjoyed a delicious dinner there and got to talk to one of the founding owners about some of the challenges of turning your love of organic farming into a thriving business. Yum.

next stop: Atlanta!

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