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Why we test soil

When I first looked at the garden site I was very excited. Rich black loam with very healthy weeds growing out of it. full sun, good drainage. The area had also been dug last year and was almost ready for planting. What could be better?

As part of routine preparation we took a soil sample and sent it off to UMass for testing. For only $9, UMass will tell you N, P and K levels, soil pH and will test for metals.

Good thing we did. Soil lead levels are high. UMass estimated soil lead at 488ppm. We took a second sample to a local lab for a more accurate test and just now got back a result of 600ppm.

Lead levels this high are a very serious problem. Children, especially, should be kept away from the soil.

I’m disappointed by the result, but I’m also glad we tested, because if we didn’t test we would have exposed ourselves and the children to possible lead poisoning.

The moral of this story:


For inexpensive soil testing see

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2 Responses to Why we test soil
  1. Kristi Wokoma
    May 28, 2010 | 10:02 am

    Sigh…’s true…its true!

    We dug up the garden, planted, the garden started sprouted….tested the soil and the test came back with high lead amounts. :(

    I didn’t really think that I was as disappointed as I was, until I went into Whole Foods and a couple of “like” stores and saw all the access to organic veggies that I could NOT AFFORD. Then I got…well…I got pissed! But never fear, I got over it…a lil’. It just makes me that much more committed to finding ways to discovering how we can “fix” this problem – so that we can grow healthy fruits and veggies, but more over teach about the importance of understanding Food Justice. Now more than ever, people need to voice their opposition to receiving sub-standard foods in our communities and making access to “good” food more realistic – and not just a pipe dream (full of lead)!

    More updates soon! :/


  1. Lead In Our Soil… | The Garden Project
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