One of our biggest goals on our homestead is sustainability. We use multiple different methods to further this goal for different aspects of our homestead. If you're curious about our different practices, check out the info below!
Our 19 acre forest is split into two parts. The ten acres that are uncut forest have been placed in a conservation easement and will never be harvested for timber. Nine acres are in advanced second growth and in need of active management.
The ten acres of preserved forest have captured permanently approximately 1250 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Responsible Forest Management
The nine acres of managed forest is being managed to increase timber stocks over time and to transition to having old growth features. This sort of management increases captured carbon in the wood, the roots and the soil. The EPA estimates this increase to be about 1.06 metric tons per acre of growing forest (national average). Though we do remove some wood for our business practices, our pacific northwest forest grows much more rapidly than the US average and intern 'evens out'. In all, for our 9 acres, we estimate we sequester about 9.5 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide per year.
Currently our farm runs off-grid on our own small hydroelectric system. This greatly reduces our farm's carbon emissions footprint. By the end of the year we will have that hydro plant connected to the grid producing 100,000 kilowatt hours per year for others locally to use. This will offset 45 metric tons of carbon a year by reducing our neighborhood's dependence on the local utility which is sourced from 1/3 coal and 1/3 natural gas.
Occasionally we produce and sell sustainably sourced charcoal on our homestead. When you buy our charcoal for grilling you are using a natural fossil fuel free heat source which has its own positive carbon impact. But what you might not know is that about one third of the charcoal we produce ends up in too small of chunks (and dust) that would not be right to sell as charcoal. This 'Bio-char' we use as a soil amendment which helps keep nutrients from being leached out of the soil, traps heavy metals and other environmental contaminants, and it helps to increase soil drainage while also improving moisture retention. It is also pure carbon that won't be leaving the soil for hundreds of years. Each pound of bio-char we add to the soil equates to the removal of 3.7 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air.