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The Safe Urban Harvests Study: An assessment of urban farms and community gardens in Baltimore City

June 03, 2021
CLF Report

Raychel Santo, Sara Lupolt, Brent Kim, Keeve Nachman

To investigate potential metal contamination risks associated with urban agriculture in Baltimore City, Center for a Livable Future researchers collaborated with the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, and University of Maryland Extension – Baltimore City to design and implement the “Safe Urban Harvests Study.”

During the 2017 growing season, researchers surveyed 104 farms and gardens in Baltimore City to learn about their growing practices and tested their soil, irrigation water, and produce for harmful metals. For comparative purposes, the researchers also collected and analyzed conventional and organic produce from grocery stores and farmers markets.

The study found that, with rare exceptions, urban farmers and gardeners can continue growing safely in Baltimore City. This report summarizes the findings, and provides guidance on ways to reduce exposures to contaminants in urban agriculture.