Detroit urban farm. From http://aslathedirt.files.wordpress.com/
Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), URS, and City of Chicago outlined how to safely farm an urban garden on top of a contaminated site at a national conference on brownfields. As Amy Yersavich, Ohio E.P.A. explained, “urban gardens aren’t going to come and go. They are here to stay so we need to focus on making them safe.” In fact, in many cities like Detroit, San Francisco, and New York City, urban gardening on all types of sites is “moving forward with leaps and bounds.” She has noticed that even Rustbelt states are transforming their brownfields into urban gardens. “Everyone wants fresh, healthy, local foods.”
Urban agriculture is the “production, distribution, marketing, and disposal of food and other products in the centers and edges of metropolitan areas.” This budding field deals with neighborhood mobilization, land and water use, pollution, health, and other issues. Programs can be private or public, volunteer-led, linked with food banks, or constructed by a landscape architect or horticultural expert. Even some park departments are starting urban farming programs.
For residential urban gardens, it’s important to look at whether the backyard used to be part of an industrial brownfield site. “A backyard could have been a brownfield in the past, or nearby some defunct facility.” Yersavich said residential gardens may have also been sites of historic “burn pits,” used early in the century to burn garbage. In addition, lead paint flakes can spread to yards.
REFERENCE: Excerpt from the article Keeping Urban Farmers Safe. By The dirt ASLA-