Urban Agriculture

Backyard gardens, community gardens, and urban farms can provide many positive benefits to communities, including food production, beautification, and community building. However, urban soils can be low in plant nutrients or occasionally contain contaminants. Soil analysis can reveal whether these constraints are present. 

The Soil, Water and Environmental lab offers gardener/urban farmer soil testing, including a low-cost heavy metal screening and additional nutrient analysis upon request. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are unable to accept samples at this time, but please check back for updates. We hope to be in the lab soon! Metal screening is recommented for the following site types:

  • Urban
  • Formerly industrial
  • Within 10 feet of a current or former structure built prior to 1960, or
  • Have an unknown history

Results include an interpretation and recommendation (Example Report).

See the sidebars for more information on soil lead and other contaminants, soil testing, and managing contaminated soil.