Free Soil Lead Testing for Community Gardners

Back by popular demand, the BUSRP’s Community Engagement Core offered free soil lead testing to community gardeners in the metro Boston area. The event was co-hosted by The Food Project during their annual Garlic and Compost Festival. The Food Project is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that runs youth development programs which promote sustainable agriculture and access to healthy food. A team of BU staff and students were on site to analyze garden soil samples for lead (Pb) with an X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer (XRF) and help interpret results for attendees.  The soil testing station was the latest outreach effort rooted in ongoing work led by Dr. Wendy Heiger-Bernays (BUSRP RTC) to educate gardeners about soil quality and best practices for safe urban agriculture.  For the event, Dr. Heiger-Bernays and colleagues developed research-based educational materials for gardeners to guide interpretation of soil results and provide tips for risk management.  The materials have been developed by her group at BUSPH, the Science Gardener Collaborative, as part of a larger effort towards decreasing risks associated with growing food in soils known to be contaminated due to human activities. Several of her students were on hand at the event to discuss results and answer gardeners’ questions.

The event, on October 19th, was open to the public and took place at the Dudley Greenhouse in Roxbury. The Dudley Greenhouse is a community greenhouse sited on a rehabilitated brownfield. In addition to free soil analyses and consultation, attendees could also purchase compost, garlic, and other produce, as well as engage in other educational activities.  We would like to give special thanks to Sadie Richards, (BU MPH grad) of Groundwork Somerville and Ashley Miller of the BUSRP CEC/RTC for coordinating the soil testing station, and BUSPH MPH students Edmarie Martinez-Rodriguez and Currie Touloumtzis for volunteering their time to help communicate soil results to gardeners.

November 6, 2013