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Soil & the Soul of Society – An exploration in fact, theory and practice

Astrid Colemar
Christer Soederberg

Sailing down the Amazon in 1542, Francisco de Orellana and his chronicler, Friar Gaspar de Carvajal, wrote about the vast, beautiful, and very wealthy settlements, cities stretching for kilometers along the river coastline and far inland where the soil “is so fertile and normal in appearance like ours in Spain”. This abundance contributed surely to the legend of El Dorado and the gold that might be found there. Gold, the symbol of wealth then – and still to this day. What if “El Dorado” was about the wealth of the land, the fertility that made it possible for such vast societies to live and thrive?

Before leaving the corporate world in Brazil in 2002, I began to question values in our society and the wealth I experienced as an expat CEO and what it was worth, really. After a period of self-reflection I began looking at ways to give something back to the environment that sustains life. I raised funds to plant trees where once the Atlantic Rainforest thrived, but where, in 2005 less than 8% remained.

It was as a result of planting trees on a few hectares of an organic coffee farm in the state of São Paulo that I first heard about “Terra Preta”, the magical and fertile soil of the Amazon, and Biochar, it’s defining ingredient.

We now know that Biochar has many applications, and even more benefits, not least as one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – acknowledged “Negative Emissions Technology’s” (NET’s).

After more than ten years of lectures, workshops and small-scale projects to spread the word on biochar, I founded Circle Carbon in 2018 together with Urs Winzenreid and Astrid Colomar. Soon afterwards, we began putting theory to practice at our Circle Carbon Labs, a fully functional farm, production plant, and Research and Development facility.

Now we can see the far-reaching benefits of regenerating our soils; the creation of wealth, the restoration of health, and reconnecting to our life-sustaining environment. We are learning by observing the results, the magical workings of a world we don’t see, the world of microorganisms and fungal networks and how we are all connected, and the Intelligence of Nature, when allowed to do what Nature does, create Life. Astrid and I look forward to exploring together with the participants, how this knowledge can best be put to use, to reverse Climate Change and create vast opportunities for a healthy, wealthy, and thriving society.