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Don’t soil garden with unsafe practices
by ALLISON EATOUGH | THE BALTIMORE SUN
Throughout the city, urban gardeners like Kelly are turning to pots, rooftops, raised soil beds and even abandoned lots to grow their own food.
Experts say urban gardens offer several benefits, including providing fresh, readily available food, increasing the beauty and value of the surrounding neighborhood and increasing physical activity for the gardeners involved.
But they also come with challenges like contaminated soil and home-damaging pests that can affect the garden’s overall success and even gardeners’ health.
“Baltimore gardeners are bright and they care about these issues,” said Brent Kim, program officer for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, an academic center examining the relationships among food, diet, environment and public health. “But there are some best practices that they don’t know about and should know about.”
Among them is using soil from trusted sources, building raised beds or container gardens, preventing garden dirt from entering the home and peeling root crops and removing outer leaves of leafy vegetables before eating them.
Urban gardening is the process of growing plants in a city environment for private use. It differs from urban farming, which the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City defines as farms that are production-oriented and growing food for others, whether for sale or for donation.
While urban gardening and farming are not new to the city, interest in both has increased throughout the past five years, said Maya Kosok, coordinator of the urban farmer advocacy group. In that time, several farms and gardens have launched, including Exeter Gardens, a community garden and former abandoned lot in the city’s Jonestown neighborhood.
“Globally, there’s been an interest in knowing where your food comes from,” Kosok said. About 15 percent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The first step in planning a healthy urban garden is testing the soil, Kim said.
“We can’t eat without soil,” he said. “It’s the foundation of our food supply.”
Read the full article: Rep.Am.