About Carbon Gardener

Carbon Gardener is a global citizen science project that aims to accelerate ERW field research through team-based volunteer experimentation and reporting at universities and other sites all over the world.

Student and volunteer teams sign up to create simple raised beds that include rock dust treated sampling areas, and complete regular tests to measure how much carbon is being sequestered following rigorous protocols developed by leading scientists.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Get good data! We want to attain sustained, high volume soil sampling data from a diverse, geographic sample of small enhanced rock weathering (ERW) test pits established, maintained and monitored by a global community of citizen researchers, anchored in Universities, using affordable, accurate testing equipment and protocols.
  2. Build interest in and understanding of ERW and its benefits among students, farmers and the general public, from the ground up!
  3. Publish our data for anyone who can use it. As testing data begins to come in for analysis, patterns will begin to emerge from the collective findings. Carbon Gardener will make this data available for free as an open source resource for anyone to access and benefit from.

FAQ

  • What is ‘citizen science’?+

    Citizen science describes the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. Citizen science leverages the interest, time, knowledge and commitment of large numbers of volunteers to deliver real, valuable scientific data. This open method can fill critical gaps that are difficult to close under the typical capacity and resource constraints that limit many areas of formal scientific field research. 

    Citizen science is a mature set of practices that has actively contributed to data advancement in a diverse range of fields over the last several decades. This National Geographic article provides an impressive inventory of past and active citizen science initiatives that are making an impact in a diverse range of fields.

  • Who started and manages Carbon Gardener?+

    Carbon Gardener is an initiative of OpenAir, an all-volunteer carbon removal action network started in 2019 now supporting a global membership in the thousands. Dr. Garrett Boudinot, Carbon Gardener’s lead science advisor, came up with the idea for the project. Before becoming a carbon removal entrepreneur in 2021, Dr. Boudinot co-led ERW field research at College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University, one of the world’s leading ERW research centers. Another co-founder, Dita Chowdhury, has been an active OpenAir member since attending high school in New York City, is an incoming undergraduate student at Cornell, leads team recruitment, training and support. OpenAir co-founder Chris Neidl provides communications and management support for the project.

  • How is Carbon Gardener Funded?+

    Carbon Gardener is entirely volunteer-led, and has been made possible by a grant support from DrawDao as well as small contributions crowdfunded by OpenAir members.

  • Can I make a donation to Carbon Gardener?+

    Yes. Your support will directly and completely fund necessary equipment and materials for more university teams. Visit our Fund page to make your donation today in support of one or more teams.

  • Who designed Carbon Gardener’s awesome logo?+

    Our logo was created by Julija Savicke, an amazingly talented and generous Lithuanian illustrator based in the Philippines. Check out and support her work here, and on Instagram.

  • I’m outside of the United States. Can I still participate in a Carbon Gardener testing team?+

    Yes. A Carbon Gardener team can be formed anywhere in the world. In fact, because our objective is to measure  rock dust performance across a wide range of climate conditions and soils types, the more global our testing network becomes the greater our collective impact will be. 



  • Who can start or join a Carbon Gardener testing team?+

    University students are ideal candidates for initiating teams because of access to requisite knowledge and equipment. However, if you are not affiliated with a university but want to participate independently, let us know and we’ll try our best to support you.

  • What time commitment is required of testing teams?+

    Carbon Gardener teams commit to a full year of periodic testing. Project preparation takes a little time upfront to set up your team, gather tools and equipment and prepare your testing beds. Soil and water testing is conducted weekly, with each test taking about 15 minutes. With teams, the work can be split up between different members. 

  • What skills and equipment are required for testing teams?+

    Basic chemistry and familiarity with the operation of standard testing and sampling tools is needed. Generally university students, with the help of a faculty member, will possess everything needed in the skills department. 

    A full equipment list can be found here, but consists of basic gardening tools and standard lab equipment. Having a Total Organic Carbon (TOC) Analyzer on campus is required to complete testing. 

  • What does it cost to get a testing team started?+

    This depends on which equipment you already have on campus or at your site. But approximately USD $500 will be required.

  • How many people are required to form and run an effective testing team?+

    That’s up to you. Technically one person could complete the work, but it’s best to have at least 4 members at any given time to help spread the workload and also ensure project continuity in case some members won’t be able to participate for the full year. New members can also join at any point during the testing period.

  • Do you need to be a University student to start a testing team?+

    Being at a University has some big advantages – access to lab equipment, expert faculty, space and motivated students studying relevant science subjects. But it’s not necessary to be a student if you have access to the above resources and capabilities through other means.

  • What happens to the data that testing teams collected, what purpose will it serve and how will it be used?+

    After a year of testing, Carbon Gardener will make it completely open on the web. The data will include analysis and interpretation of findings.