Posted by Emily
Have you ever wondered about potential contaminants in your community garden? We frequently hear questions about the safety of Chicago’s soils and urban-grown produce. Although individual gardens may test their soil and (less commonly) their water, there is little information about general trends in contaminants in urban agriculture.
We are excited to be partnering with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the US Department of Agriculture to join the ‘Safe Urban Harvests’ study. This study, which started in Baltimore, will investigate potential contamination risks associated with urban agriculture in Chicago. Our hope is that this study will provide the most in-depth insights into these issues to date. We hope that all gardens in our current study will participate!
Here is some more information:
Farmers and gardeners may come into contact with heavy metals that may be in soil. People may also ingest these chemicals when eating produce grown in contaminated soils. By investigating these potential risks, we hope to address these concerns and promote safer growing practices.
Our researchers will survey community garden leaders in Chicago, and collect and analyze soil and irrigation water samples for the presence of heavy metals. The soil and water test results from your garden will be shared with you, accompanied by interpretation of those results, and recommendations (if any). The combined results for all farms and gardens may be published in reports and research papers, but they will not be presented in a way that would allow readers to identify the results for your garden. If our findings provide reason for concern, we will work with affected gardeners to address any safety issues. In the event that we find no or minimal risks, our findings may foster greater confidence in the safety of urban harvests.
Would you be willing to let us collect some soil and water samples in your garden? If so, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might be able to include other gardens in this study too, so if you know of someone in another garden who might be interested, please feel free to share this information with them.