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Re: veggies and pollution

  • Subject: Re: [cg] veggies and pollution
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 11:59:18 EST


This was sent to you by Lenny Librizzi from the Cybergarden's list. As your 
e-mail was not posted there, I copy it here for your use: 


This article is a good place to start. There are also good links, phone#'s 
and people to contact

Lenny Librizzi

Unlike Europe, which banned lead paint around the turn of the 20th century, 
the US kept using it into the 1980's. This means that in urban areas, like 
NYC, it is extremely prudent to test the soil of any empty lot for lead, 
heavy metals and any possible chemical residue from industrial and light 
manufacturing uses,  in any city lot that citizen volunteers want to 
revitalize by creating a community garden. While it is prudent for any 
gardener to do soil testing to guide choices in organic soil amendments, this 
added issue makes prudence a necessity. 

On the converse side, we are fortunate that lead was phased out as a chemical 
 additive to gasoline in the United States in the 1970's (there are very few 
vehicles that use leaded gasoline in the US at this time.)  While our US 
Federal Air Standards are not entirely satisfactory (or even well enforced) 
these have improved the air quality in substantial ways. However, there is a 
new public awareness in the US that urban greening is necessary, 
Environmental Impact Statements are required for most new construction, and 
while certainly behind Europe and parts of Japan in this regard, the idea of 
"green buildings" and "green roofs" are beginning to get champions, including 
Mayor Daley of Chicago.

Back to community gardens - Once a community garden group has cleared away 
the rubble and done soil testing, the business of  soil amendment begins in 
earnest.  In cleared areas that are considered to be dangerous by Federal 
heavy metal standards, local gardeners either walk away from the site, or 
choose to contain the material with barriers and grow plants and vegetables 
in containers filled with unpolluted soil.  In other areas, where the heavy 
metal pollution is considered minor, gardeners make considerable soil 
amendments by adding soil, composted organic materials, peat moss,  and 
starting-up neighborhood composting bins.  It is important to note that most 
gardens in these redeemed lots create raised beds, following the organic 
practices  of Alan Chadwick, John John Jeavon or other approved organic 
gardening practices.

 It is in these that vegetables are raised, according to organic principles, 
for human consumption.  With careful composting and amendments, along with 
the re-introduction of vermiculture, beneficial insects many of these 
redeemed city places produce much needed food for low income residents.  

These empty lots, often the rubble covered relicts of housing destroyed by 
arson in American cities during the the late 1960's and 1970's, initially 
looked like the bombed out lots that covered many sections of European cities 
at the end of Mr. Hitler's war.

It should be noted that many of these community gardens provide desperately 
needed public green space for densely populated urban neighborhoods.  In many 
NYC neighborhoods, the growing of vegetables, while fostered, are secondary 
to the creation, by neighborhood volunteers, of well maintained, crime free 
viewing gardens - places where mothers feel safe enough to breast feed their 
infants, and on whose  lawns those children take their first steps.  Unlike 
the public parks, where budget cuts often make walking barefoot a risky afair 
due to broken glass and dog droppings, the citizen created, volunteer 
community gardens provide safe and well run neighborhood oases. In this  ad 
hoc fashion, with little or no goverment support,  especially in low income 
areas, working class and poor people create their own public spaces and feed 

For information on the American Community Gardening movement, which differs 
in some ways from the Eurpean Allotment and Recreation Gardening movement, 
please go to the website of the American Community Gardening Association and 
read through our links:   <A HREF="http://www.communitygarden.org/";>American 
Community Gardening Association</A> 

For an example of a NYC garden that has both a green public space component 
as well as raised beds for the raising of vegetables, please go to the  <A 
HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/";>Clinton Community Garden</A>  .

Both websites have links to urban garden groups, listserves and websites 
where you can do more research on urban gardening in the United States, 
Canada and the world.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman,
Clinton Community Garden 


The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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