Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2013 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Baltimore Urban Community Gardeners' Knowledge and Perceptions of Soil Contaminant Risks
Kim, Brent
Co-Authors: Brent Kim Katie Dix Melissa Poulsen Jared Margulies Anne Palmer Keeve Nachman

Although urban community gardening can offer health, social, environmental, and economic benefits, these benefits must be weighed against the risk of exposure to heavy metals and other contaminants that may be present in urban soils. Urban gardeners may be unaware of these risks and how best to manage them. To characterize urban community gardeners' knowledge and perceptions of soil contaminant risks, we surveyed 70 gardeners from community gardens in Baltimore, and interviewed 18 key nformants including garden leaders, urban farmers, and employees of city and federal agencies. We identified a range of needs and challenges, including low levels of concern and inconsistent levels of knowledge about contaminants, barriers to investigating site history and conducting soil tests, and a need for clear and concise information on how to reduce exposure. Key informants shared various strategies for addressing these areas.