Lead & community gardens

Natural Literacy- Geoffrey Gothelf natlit at WELL.SF.CA.US
Mon Mar 14 21:23:49 EST 1994

There have been several postings on BIOSCI-
REQUEST at net.bio.net concerning lead in soils and crops and 
focused on urban community gardens.

I believe this all started from an email I sent to the 
person posting something about a lead poisoning conference.  
I suppose my mail then was forwarded to this listserv.  I 
thought I should post the gist of my original mail since 
this would provide some background.

I live in San Jose, CA, one block from the 880 freeway and 
about two miles south of the SJC airport.  Next to the 
freeway is our local community garden, and it has been there 
for 20 years at least (but I dont for certain).  At this 
location the freeway is elevated on a berm from 20 feet at 
the north end sloping to zero feet at the south.  At the 
southern end is an offramp for one of the main exits to 

I have been obsessed for years on the question- is this 
gardens soil contaminated by lead, or anything else.  Seems 
like a place where lots of contamination would build up.  I 
tried to get the city and some local media interested in the 
question but to no avail.  I could not find a lab which 
would do tests gratis (surprise, surprise) nor anyone else 
to fund the testing (hence contacts with the city and media 
to see if they would).

I posted originally because I was/am interested in two 
things- 1. is contaminated soil in an urban community garden 
located next to a busy freeway a probability and a valid 
concern, and 2. who out there is willing to test the soil 
and crops from this garden.  

If ok with the moderator, I prefer the discussion continue 
on the listserv and NOT to me privately.

-Geoffrey Gothelf
 natlit at well.sf.ca.us

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