Urban Soils Panel, Nov 20

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Urban Agriculture is becoming increasingly popular and touted as a resilience building tool for urban areas seeking a transition to a more sustainable, local food system. However, urban soils contamination is a major limiting factor to the scaling up of urban agriculture practices. There is a need for research of the local soils in the East Bay to find out what the common contaminants are and what health risks these contaminants pose to current and future urban agriculture
practitioners, as well as consumers of produced grown in the surrounding cities. This presentation and panel highlights three current hyper-localized urban soils research projects. The researchers will also speak on a panel about their work.

Healing From The Ground Up: Soil Testing, Storytelling, and Ecological Restoration in Richmond, CA
Ellie Lum and Josh Arnold

Healing from the Ground Up is a community based, participatory educational project whose mission is to assess and map the state of soil health in the city of Richmond, California, for the purposes of empowering communities with necessary tools to reclaim urban soils for agriculture and health.

The Student Organic Garden Association: Heavy Metal Synopsis
Sara Cate Jones and Matthew Duffett

In the spring semester of 2014 a group of students from UC Berkeley’s Biology 1B course submitted a research paper on metalloid contaminants within the soil of the UC Berkeley Student Organic Gardening Association’s (SOGA) student-run garden. The garden, located on university property at the corner of Virginia and Walnut Street in North Berkeley, serves both local community members as well as UC Berkeley students by providing a space for education in food justice and sustainable organic gardening grounded in hands-on experience. SOGA garden managers researched the potential health risks of their soil contamination and developed educational garden protocols for continued garden practices at The Student Organic Garden. They will present their research on this.

Santa Fe Right-of-Way (SFROW): Soil Remediation
Sarick Matzen

Sarick is researching arsenic phytoremediation using the Chinese brake fern, Pteris vittata. He is interested in helping turn underutilized urban space into food production zones, and sees researching soil remediation as an important part of this process. Sarick is seeking ways to promote P. vittata arsenic accumulation using soil amendments. He is also investigating the potential negative effects of lead on fern arsenic uptake. With this research, Sarick hopes to develop protocols for simultaneous remediation of soils contaminated with lead and arsenic – common co-contaminants in urban as well as rural soils. His work is centered around field studies conducted at the Santa Fe Right of Way (SFROW), an out-of-service railroad bed in South Berkeley, where arsenic contamination postponed plans to establish a community orchard. Partnering with Sarick's research at the SFROW field site are several community organizations, including Berkeley's Ecology Center and the Spiral Gardens Community Food Security Project.

Please join us for a reception after the event.