Biochar/Ravina Project

The Biochar Project

A research project is ready to get started in the Pocket and volunteer gardeners are invited to discuss being involved. This study is a project of the Pocket Community Association Energy Committee, Chair Gord Fraser. It is spearheaded by The Ravina Project:

We want to know whether adding Biochar (a form of charcoal) to the soil at a concentration of 3 kg dry weight per square metre will help plant growth. To study this question, we need an active and control plot (one square metre each) beside each other to see whether there is a difference in growth.

The interesting thing about Biochar is that it releases plant food like a time-release capsule you take for a cold. And it dramatically increases the surface area available for soil bacteria to grow upon. This in turn makes the soil more productive because those bacteria make plant food.

Our data will be published on our WEB site and probably in some kind of science journal since we are working loosely with some Profs at U of T. Here are the steps involved in participation:

Here are the rules for the Biochar experiment:

  1. Starts in the spring of 2013 and runs for the growing season.
  2. It requires 2 square meters of garden plot divided in half.
  3. You grow the same veggies in each half.
  4. You chose the varieties and kinds of veggies you grow.
  5. Biochar will be worked into one half of the plot by us before planting.
  6. We will visit your plot once a month until the end of the season to make measurements of each plant’s progress.
  7. No fertilizer is to be used on the plots.
  8. The plot area should have the same access to rain and sun.
  9. The gardeners keep all the veggies they grow.

Contact info: [email protected] Susan and Gord 416.466.6586


The Ravina Project

The Ravina Project, conceived in late spring 2006 and up and running in November of that year is a household-focused engineering science project. We are collecting high fidelity data and writing formal papers on such topics as: household cooling and heating efficiencies, solar PV efficiencies versus ambient heat and sun angles, the invention of a new solar PV efficiency standard, household resiliency, household thermodynamics, and how ‘livable’ a lower carbon emission lifestyle can be.

The array structure is unique. It is designed to gather data to calculate a solar array’s aperture and thereby help understand the best algorithms for 2-axis sun tracking systems, among other things.

In addition to the science and data gathering, The Ravina Project is conceived and built as a prototype upgrade to an existing and very common housing type in the GTA. We are testing the integration of various sub-systems over an extended number of years to determine their compatibility both with each other and with the people, plants and pets who make up the household.

We envision a future in which household use of electrical Grid power and carbon based fuels will be, of necessity, much lower than today. So as the lifestyle part of the experiment unfolds we are living that future lifestyle today in a house modified for tomorrow.

All our data and papers are published on our website at:

Ravina Project Photos