This is from a collection of photos from a site survey being conducted in my Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Note the peeling paint just above the tomato plants. Is it lead based paint?
Note that this is a re-post in recognition that this is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. If not for my dysfunctional knees I would have extended this survey even further. Toxic metals contaminated soil is a very serious but under reported health issue. It is a particular threat to children. There will be more posts on the subject this week.
Leadville is a fictional neighborhood that could be in any city in the USA. The name is fictional but the photos are real. They are from an ongoing site survey of people’s efforts to grow edible plants in their urban yards. These are front yards in a city where toxic metals soil contamination is far more widespread than the public realizes.
Currently the walking tour site survey is ongoing in the middle class neighborhood of Bay Ridge Brooklyn where I live. I will survey other Brooklyn neighborhoods in the future.
The survey, triggered by my long-standing interest in the challenges of urban food growing, started in the summer of 2008. I focus on personal efforts to grow food in the city rather than on community or public gardening. Personal food gardening is where the public health hazard resides due to insufficient consumer education about the problem of toxic metals soil contamination.
The photos demonstrate the often-feeble efforts that residents make to grow some edible plants in the concrete jungle of the built environment. The soil in most cases could hardly be termed tillable, arable or productive. Look closely. The soil is neither pretty nor very inviting for “dirty hands” devotees.
What you see in the photos is only the tip of the iceberg. The photos are all of front yard growing. The majority of edible plants of course are growing in backyards hidden from view.