FREE Soil Testing for Food Gardeners

Visit the Soil Kitchen April 8-9
Austin Texas Recovery ResourcesAUSTIN, TexasFind out what’s in your garden soil at the Soil Kitchen! Austin Brownfields experts will be on hand April 8-9 to accept soil samples to be screened for heavy metals and tested for nutrients—an essential task to ensure the soil is safe and effective for growing food crops.

“Urban soils can contain contamination, mostly from past use of leaded gasoline and lead-based paint. As a result, residents—especially pre-school age children—risk exposure to lead and other metals in the soil,” said Christine Whitney, program manager for Brownfields Revitalization Office. “As a service to the Austin community, we are pleased to offer free soil testing at the Soil Kitchen. It’s free, anonymous and accessible. In the process, we help teach Austin’s urban gardeners how to grow food that’s safe to eat,” said Whitney.

The testing is confidential. A number is assigned to each soil sample and the gardener can look up the results online around mid-May.

On Saturday, April 8, the Soil Kitchen will coincide with the free East Austin Garden Fair. The Fair includes a variety of enjoyable activities including building a rain barrel, keeping bees and raising backyard chickens.

The Soil Kitchen is sponsored by Austin Brownfields Revitalization Office part of Austin Resource Recovery. To help educate Austinites about services available via the City’s Brownfields Revitalization Office, the Soil Kitchen event highlights the similarities between screening backyard garden soil and testing commercial land for possible contaminants before future development.

For more information about the Soil Kitchen and soil sampling, please visit www.austintexas.gov/soilkitchen.

The Soil Kitchen will be open at Parque Zaragoza, 2608 Gonzales Street, Austin, 78702:
Saturday, April 8, 20179 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday, April 9, 20179 a.m. – Noon


Directions for Soil Sampling:

  1. You will need a garden trowel or spade; a spoon; a quart size plastic bag; a waterproof marker; and a clean shallow pan.
  2. Label the bag with the following information: your initials and the approximate location of your garden plot. PLEASE do not give yourexact address. Instead, please list your street and the closest cross street. This is for the protection of your privacy.
  3. Go to your garden area and sample the soil in five to 10 different spots around the garden bed(s). Dig to a depth of six inches, using your trowel to make a cone shape into the soil and then extract the samples. Place each of the collected samples into the shallow pan.
  4. When you have completed the sampling work, take your trowel or spoon and mix all the soil together in the shallow pan to obtain a more representative sample.
  5. If the soil is very wet, leave the soil to dry out in the pan overnight. Make sure to remove any rocks, grass or dead plant material that could get in the way.
  6. Put two cups of soil in a plastic bag and seal it shut. Your one bag of soil will be sampled for the presence of heavy metals AND for soil nutrients.
  7. Drop your sample off at the Soil Kitchen. We will give you a card that has information on how to obtain your soil results online around mid-May.

About Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. Austin Resource Recovery offers free, voluntary and confidential consulting services to help Austin businesses reduce waste and comply with the City’s recycling ordinances. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City’s road map to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. Learn more at austinrecycles.com.

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