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Urban Gardening and Soil Testing

October 26th, 2010

If you live in an urban area and are considering growing your own garden, you may want to consider testing your soil for lead. According to research conducted at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, by geochemist Gabriel Filippelli, Ph.D., professor of earth sciences, abandoned urban lots are sometimes contaminated with lead.

While it’s utterly wonderful that many urban downtown city spaces are being revitalized, it’s those aged manufacturing facilities, neglected buildings with lead paint, freeways, and streets that are the most likely to harbor lead below the ground.

What’s the problem with lead? If children are exposed to high levels of lead, health effects can range from hyperactivity, inattentiveness, learning problems to brain and nervous system damage to sluggish growth. Adults exposed to high levels of lead can cause gastrointestinal and neurological health effects.

Testing your urban garden soil for lead is a pre-cautionary step to take before starting a garden. Check with your local health department to see if they do lead testing. According to Filippelli, if test results indicate less than 200 parts per million (ppm) gardens can indeed be planted and may benefit from high phosphate fertilizer which immobilizes lead. If your soil is tested at 200-500 parts per million of lead, Filippelli recommends covering all exposed soil with at least three inches of mulch and planting in raised beds that contain clean topsoil.

With caution and care, urban gardening can result in healthy food that is safe. Part of living in the city and growing your own food means being aware of the environment in which you live.

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The Buzz: Don’t Miss the Exclusive Arizona Film Premier of Vanishing of the Bees

October 16th, 2010


Back in August, you may have read our blog post Colony Collapse Disorder and Vanishing of the Bees. From the moment we learned about this documentary we thought, “This is a film that everyone needs to see!” Since then, Humble and Seed and Central Slope have arranged to host the exclusive Arizona film premier of Vanishing of the Bees. Here’s the buzz:

Vanishing of the Bees:

Saturday, November 6, 2010 – 5:00 p.m.

MADCAP Theaters

730 S. Mill Avenue

Tempe, Arizona 85281

Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Oscar-nominated Ellen Page, takes an intense and investigative look at the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee and examines the current agricultural landscape. This meaningful film also celebrates the ancient and sacred connection between humans and honeybees.

For information on how you can help make this screening a success, via Worker Bee ($50) or Queen Bee ($100) sponsorships, visit Individual tickets ($15) may be purchased at MADCAP Theaters.  Also, a portion of all ticket sales will go to Save the Honeybee Foundation.

If you’re a friend of the bee, you need to make a beeline to get your tickets today, because this exclusive Arizona film premier of Vanishing of the Bees will sell out! Seating is limited. See you soon!

View Trailer:

VB Promo Flyer

VB Promo Flyer (Active Links)

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Got Bumper Crops? Consider Donating for a Worthy Cause

October 6th, 2010


If you’re a seasoned gardener you know there are times when you’ll have bumper crops of vegetables overflowing from your garden, and you know what it’s like to experience that wonderful feeling of being able to share your bounty with family and friends.

As you harvest your fall vegetables and begin to plan for your spring garden, why not consider sharing your bounty with those in need? One organization that is committed to reducing hunger in America is, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. is a nationwide effort to educate, enable and encourage gardeners to donate to a local food pantry—a walk-in facility where families in need can go to get food.

According to, one out of six Americans needs food assistance but can’t get fresh produce from the local food pantry. And, according to the US Department of Agriculture, Americans throw away one pound of food per person, per day. A sad statistic, considering there are many people who do not have food to eat. For more information on food waste read our Waste Not, Want Not blog post.

Currently there are 2,833 food pantries across the United States registered with Find a food pantry near you then help reduce hunger and food waste in America. even offers a free iPhone app, so you can easily and quickly find a local food pantry. In August 2010, was listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a food rescue resource.

If you’re new to gardening and planning your spring garden, consider planting extra so you can donate fresh, healthy produce to those who truly need help in obtaining nutritious foods for their families.

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