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Category — Soil

India: 60 Mahim families recycle 8,500 kg waste, develop garden in Mumbai

Residents of Matoshree Pearl have started growing vegetables in their terrace garden. (HT Photo)

The residents of Matoshree Pearl, a 22-storey building with 65 flats, have been treating their collective biodegradable kitchen waste within the society premises using two bio-composter tumblers with a capacity of 10 kg each that produce nutrient-rich manure.

By Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
May 7, 2018


November onward, the 4,000sqft terrace of the building was made home to an organic garden where residents grow spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, chili, ladyfinger, fenugreek, lemon grass and many other vegetables. Children from the society have been given a vegetable patch each and they are responsible for nurturing them.

“We have set up a drip irrigation system which uniformly provides water to each of these plantations,” said Shireesh Kedare, resident and professor, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B).

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May 12, 2018   No Comments

We Need Soil!

Children’s book

By Ji-Hyeon Lee (Author), Bo-Mi Shin (Illustrator)
Big & Small
Aug 1, 2016

A girl and boy demonstrate the value of soil by pointing out its uses, such as providing a habitat for earthworms, growing fruits and vegetables, and dyeing fabric.

Ji-hyeon Lee used to work for a children’s publishing company and now writes stories for children. She is the author of A Storyteller in the Animal Kingdom and I Want a Tree in My House.

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February 7, 2018   Comments Off on We Need Soil!

$500,000 from the National Science Foundation goes to urban agriculture research

In addition to his work studying recycled nutrients in the soil of the community garden, professor Chip Small studies the same phenomenon in hydroponics, where the waste from fish is used to feed aquatic plants. (Photo by Mike Ekern ’02)

“The main focal point of the grant is on the use of nutrients and how to recycle them efficiently.

By Jordan Osterman
St. Thomas Newsroom
April 5, 2017


“I’ve been asking questions about how efficiently we can recycle nutrients from food waste into new food through composting, coupled with urban agriculture,” Small said. “Something like nearly half the food imported into cities ends up as waste, and we compost maybe 5 percent of that waste. Theoretically that could be scaled up and provide lots of nutrients for urban agriculture.”

Of course, scaling anything up means increasing the amount of everything in play and, when it comes to growing food, that means increasing the amount of phosphorus.

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April 12, 2017   Comments Off on $500,000 from the National Science Foundation goes to urban agriculture research

Assessment of Soil Health in Urban Agriculture: Soil Enzymes and Microbial Properties

The addition of organic fertilizers tended to increase most enzyme activities and available nutrients in the soils, as compared to that of inorganic fertilizers

By Avanthi Deshani Igalavithana, Sang Soo Lee, Nabeel Khan Niazi, Young-Han Lee, Kye Hoon Kim, Jeoung-Hun Park, Deok Hyun Moon, and Yong Sik Ok
Feb 20, 2017


Urban agriculture has been recently highlighted with the increased importance for recreation in modern society; however, soil quality and public health may not be guaranteed because of continuous exposure to various pollutants. The objective of this study was to evaluate the soil quality of urban agriculture by soil microbial assessments. Two independent variables, organic and inorganic fertilizers, were considered. The activities of soil enzymes including dehydrogenase, ?-glucosidase, arylsulfatase, urease, alkaline and acid phosphatases were used as indicators of important microbial mediated functions and the soil chemical properties were measured in the soils applied with organic or inorganic fertilizer for 10 years. Fatty acid methyl ester analysis was applied to determine the soil microbial community composition.

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February 25, 2017   Comments Off on Assessment of Soil Health in Urban Agriculture: Soil Enzymes and Microbial Properties

Perspective: City farming needs monitoring

andyAndrew A. Meharg.

In general, fruit and vegetables produced in city environments contain more undesirable substances than rural produce.

Andrew A. Meharg
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science
March 16, 2016
Andrew A. Meharg is a plant and soil scientist at Queen’s University Belfast, UK.


It may be possible to build new cities that avoid the current contamination issues. But in existing cities, where urban farming is an afterthought, some lateral thinking is required to give urban agriculture a future. Growing non-food crops such as textile fibre plants, biomass crops and timber would make use of urban and suburban waste land, green the city, recycle waste water and biosolids, and produce crops that currently take up rural land that is ideal for food production.

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March 23, 2016   Comments Off on Perspective: City farming needs monitoring

Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

Kids get creative with kale in an urban garden in Tacoma, Washington.Kristen McIvor

“It is highly unlikely that urban agriculture will increase incidences of elevated blood Pb for children in urban areas. This is due to the high likelihood that agriculture will improve soils in urban areas, resulting in reduced bioavailability of soil Pb and reduced fugitive dust.”

By Michelle Ma
University of Washington
Feb 2, 2016
(Must see. Mike)


Using compost is the single best thing you can do to protect your family from any danger associated with lead in urban soils. Good compost will also guarantee that you will have plenty of vegetables to harvest.

That’s the main finding of a paper appearing this month in the Journal of Environmental Quality. The University of Washington-led study looked at potential risks associated with growing vegetables in urban gardens and determined that the benefits of locally produced vegetables in cities outweigh any risks from gardening in contaminated soils.

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February 3, 2016   Comments Off on Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

‘Symphony of the Soil’ – Watch film free online for a few more days

Symphony of the Soil – with English Subtitles from Lily Films on Vimeo.

The producers of this film are allowing a full and FREE viewing of Symphony of the Soil through 12/11/2015.

Winner of the Merit Award for Scientific Information 2012 Montana CINE International Film Festival
Winner Best in Festival of the Life Sciences Film Festival 2012 Czech University of Life Sciences
Winner of the Food Award 2013 Cinema Verde Film Festival

Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.

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December 7, 2015   Comments Off on ‘Symphony of the Soil’ – Watch film free online for a few more days

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid researchers assess potential risk for human health associated with metals in urban gardens

man 1

Results show that there exist significant differences in the average total concentration of the elements among the studied urban gardens depending on their localization and previous uses of the soil.

Nov 11, 2015


Researchers from the School of Mining and Energy Engineering at UPM collected samples of arable soil layers of different urban gardens and assessed the metal content and the physicochemical properties of the soil. Most of the risk assessment models are based on the total concentration of pollutants in the environment, but they do not consider that just one part is really absorbed by our organism.

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November 19, 2015   Comments Off on Universidad Politécnica de Madrid researchers assess potential risk for human health associated with metals in urban gardens

Here’s how to keep homegrown food safe


Our organic veggies could be growing in contaminated soil.

By Katharine Gammon
Take Part
July 21, 2015


They found that in the majority of examples, eating vegetables grown in the contaminated soils studied was safe. Levels of contaminants in root vegetables, such as carrots, were higher than in tomatoes and collard greens. But the researchers said there was no reason to avoid gardening in city soils, as long as precautions are taken.

“Washing hands thoroughly after gardening, covering pathways with woodchips or gravel, and keeping soil moist during dry and windy conditions to prevent dust generation are all effective preventative measures to ensure safe gardening,” said Ganga Hettiarachchi, a soil chemist at Kansas State University and lead author of the study.

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July 28, 2015   Comments Off on Here’s how to keep homegrown food safe

The dirt on soil: Keep it healthy for the sake of your veggies

Lorraine Johnson thinks of soil as an underground universe comprising tens of thousands of creatures that are our friends. (Mark Blinch for the Globe and Mail)

“The main thing to do is remember that soil is alive,” says Lorraine Johnson

By Sarah Elton
Special to The Globe and Mail
May 27, 2015


Michael Levenston, of Vancouver’s City Farmer, the go-to urban agriculture non-profit that runs a compost demonstration garden and teaches gardening skills, believes this recognition can be gained by working in the garden, and composting. “Making soil, that’s really transformative,” he says.

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May 28, 2015   Comments Off on The dirt on soil: Keep it healthy for the sake of your veggies

2015 International Year of Soils – FAO

faosoil Click on image for larger file.

Urban soil farming helping feed more people

By Sarah Elton
CBC News Story
April 3, 2015


At a high school close to downtown Toronto, grade eleven student Deshanel Evans is getting back to the earth.

That is, he’s making the stuff.

As a part-time job, Evans collects kitchen scraps from the school’s culinary program and layers the carrot peelings and apple cores with leaves and other organic material in the bin. Evans then oversees the composting, turning the pile to aerate it and waiting as worms and bacteria transform the food scraps into nutrient-rich soil.

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April 4, 2015   Comments Off on 2015 International Year of Soils – FAO

Are your urban veggies really toxic?


The New York State Department of Health, along with those same soil-researchers at Cornell, put together a list of 10 best practices for healthy gardening in and around contaminated urban soils.

By Liz Core
21 Nov 2014


Vigil told me that the farms have soil tested every year for lead levels, and the results have always come out safe. So when the press started railing against the toxic dangers of his veggies, Vigil was put off (OK, he was royally ticked). He wrote an open letter about what’s really going on and how urban farmers are handling soil toxins. Here’s a taste:

In the past two years we have partnered with the Department of Sanitation to distribute over 5,000 bags of NYC Compost to East New York gardens, and applied over 10 cubic yards of new compost to our farm.

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December 11, 2014   Comments Off on Are your urban veggies really toxic?

Research Paper: Concentrations of lead, cadmium and barium in urban garden-grown vegetables


The impact of soil variables

By Murray B. McBridea, Hannah A. Shaylera, Henry M. Spliethoffb, Rebecca G. Mitchellb, Lydia G. Marquez- Bravob, Gretchen S. Ferenzc, Jonathan M. Russell-Anellia, Linda Caseyc, and Sharon Bachmand
Published in Environmental Pollution – August 2014

Paired vegetable/soil samples from New York City and Buffalo, NY, gardens were analyzed for lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and barium (Ba). Vegetable aluminum (Al) was measured to assess soil adherence. Soil and vegetable metal concentrations did not correlate; vegetable concentrations varied by crop type. Pb was below health-based guidance values (EU standards) in virtually all fruits.

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December 11, 2014   Comments Off on Research Paper: Concentrations of lead, cadmium and barium in urban garden-grown vegetables

Metal contamination found in Vancouver community garden, brownfield sites

oakcg16 Oaks Community Garden in Vancouver. A recent study detected metal contamination associated with high traffic ares in the soil. Photograph by: Arlen Redekop.
Soil research suggests study required before growing food on land near busy transportation corridors

By Randy Shore,
Vancouver Sun
December 2, 2014


An eight-month study of Vancouver garden and agricultural soils has found levels of lead and other metals above the most stringent Canadian standards for human health.

Samples taken from the 16 Oaks community garden averaged 219 parts per million of lead, which exceeds the standard of 70 to 140 ppm for agricultural, residential and park land set by the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers.

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December 2, 2014   Comments Off on Metal contamination found in Vancouver community garden, brownfield sites

Documentary ‘Symphony of the Soil’ online until October 10

See the complete video on this page until October 10.

Extols the Importance and Mystery of Soil

By Dr. Mercola
Oct 1, 2014


One of Earth’s greatest treasures is soil, without which we could not survive. Soil is the mother of nearly all plant life, and ultimately, all animal life on this planet. It’s the interface between biology and geology—the living skin of the earth.

A new documentary, “Symphony of the Soil,” extols the importance and mystery of soil, as discussed by some of the world’s most esteemed scientists, farmers, and activists.1 This visually stunning film reveals how the future of humankind largely depends on how well we care for this vital natural resource.

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October 7, 2014   Comments Off on Documentary ‘Symphony of the Soil’ online until October 10