Evaluation soil quality and lead in Chicago community and school gardens

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2008: $9,857.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Grant Recipient: University of Illinois
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Michelle Wander
University of Illinois


  • Vegetables: greens (lettuces)


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, workshop, youth education
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community services, public participation, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    "Evaluating soil quality in Chicago community and school gardens” will aid community and school garden programs in Chicago by offering them educational materials, soil quality evaluations based on testing in their gardens, and demonstrations in an effort to keep lead in their gardens at levels that do not harm human health or plant productivity. Chicago has more than 50 urban agricultural projects, many of which provide a source of local, sustainable food for city-dwellers. While the gardens provide so many benefits, they may be at risk of lead pollution.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will test the soil of approximately 10 different such projects for lead with a chemical analysis of soil and a lettuce bioassay. We will use the different methods for testing lead in order to compare them and determine which is the most meaningful and easy to use. Involved gardeners will be given tailored information about how to improve their soil at the end of the project and invited to a meeting to discuss the results with gardeners across the city. Project results will be evaluated based on completion of soil recommendations, educational materials, and a scientific paper.We will also evaluate participation of gardeners at the final meeting and have the involved gardeners and teachers complete surveys. Project outcomes will help users of city gardens by giving them the information they need to improve their soil, and possibly increase productivity/profitability.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.