excerpted by Jack Kittredge from the EPA publication “Brownfields and Urban Agriculture” and from “Using Historical Records to Assess Environmental Conditions at Community Gardens” by Robert Hersh and from “Toolbox for Sustainable City Living” by Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew
Across the country, communities are adopting the use of urban agriculture and community gardens for neighborhood revitalization. Sites ranging from former auto-manufacturers, industrial complexes, and whole neighborhoods, down to small individual lots, including commercial and residential areas, are being considered as potential spots for growing food.
Redeveloping any potentially contaminated urban property (often referred to as brownfields), brings up questions about the site’s environmental history and the risks posed by a proposed reuse. At this time there are no definitive standards for soil contaminant levels that are safe for food production. EPA has long-established soil screening levels for contaminated site cleanup, but these threshold-screening levels usually serve as a starting point for further property investigation and do not factor in plant uptake or bioavailability.
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