Safe Urban Harvests Study
We frequently hear questions about the safety of Baltimore’s soils and urban-grown produce. The Center is conducting a study to investigate potential contamination risks associated with urban agriculture in Baltimore City.
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.
We are surveying Baltimore's farm managers and community garden leaders and collecting soil, water, and produce samples and analyzing them for the presence of heavy metals. For comparative purposes, we are also analyzing conventional and USDA-certified Organic produce from supermarkets and farmers markets.
We are also expanding this study to include urban gardens in Chicago, in partnership with colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory
- Baltimore City Office of Sustainability
- Community Greening Resource Network
- Farm Alliance of Baltimore City
- University of Maryland Extension -- Baltimore City
- University of Illinois at Chicago
- General recommendations for reducing contact with harmful metals in urban soils
- Guide to testing soil for heavy metals
- FAQ: Safety of soils and compost for sale and how they are regulated in MD
- Methods: How samples were collected, analyzed, and interpreted
- Meet the Safe Urban Harvests Baltimore study team
- Meet the Safe Urban Harvests Chicago study team
- Grant and assistance opportunities for Baltimore community gardens and urban farms
Updates and announcements:
The study team returned soil and water results to participants in summer 2018 and fruit and vegetable sample results in summer 2019. We are working on preparing a public report of aggregate citywide results as well as scientific manuscripts for publication.
For questions about the study, please contact Keeve Nachman at firstname.lastname@example.org.