Urban farming is a dynamic opportunity for food security in poor inner city areas, especially since the cost of shipping food from elsewhere increases as oil becomes more expensive. Access to local food is possible by farming on urban lots. Sadly, much of the urban soil has been contaminated by industrial uses.
To overcome this problem, Soil Kitchen, a collaborative art project funded by the City of Philadelphia to coincide with the National Brownfield Conference, has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test soil samples for contamination. Those who bring soil to test may also eat a bowl of soup. Knowing how toxic the land is can help citizens make informed decisions about whether to eat what they grow, or if non-edible landscaping is recommended. Contaminated land can then be cleaned through a process of bio-remediation, whereby plants and organisms neutralize toxins and harmful minerals. Land that is classified as a Brownfield is eligible for a federal grant program administered by the EPA. Organizers hope that when the resulting data is mapped it will spur citizen action, political commitment to revitalize polluted municipal lands, and make them into assets of food security and engagement.