Soil Quality

We are used to see the urban landscape changing and in particular to see urban green field developed into new retail parks or housing units. But we rarely imagine or even conceive of built spaces becoming urban food growing sites. This workshop looked into how we can take care of urban soil and bring them back to their original purpose. Urban agriculture and local food growing has actually to deal with contamination and soil fertility. Speakers from Leeds City Council, grassroots community groups, local businesses and third sector organisations gave us an overview of how we can improve soil structure and deal with urban contaminants in an accessible way, while also dealing with greenhouse gasses emissions.


From the discussions with participants we have gathered a few points that should drive the future agenda for urban agriculture:

  • Community gardeners are demanding information and support for soil testing.
  • Existing information on soil quality, soil improvement and soil remediation is limited or non-accessible to the general public.
  • Knowledge on soil and compost management in relation to greenhouse gasses’ emission is very limited.
  • A good compost is the pillar for closed loops energy cycles, but more training is needed, starting with the basics of compost making and ending with sophisticated ways to produce different mixes of nutrients N-P-K suitable to different stages of plants growth.


Download Soil Contamination and Food Growing, Stella Keenan
Download Urban Metabolism and Soil Quality, Chiara Tornaghi
Download Mycoremediation, Pete Tatham
Download RHS Compost-Making, Sara-Jane Mason
Download Biochar Basics, Andy Ross
Download The Production of Biochar, David Hutchinson


Leeds Council Land Contamination, Stella Keenan
Composting, Sara-Jane Mason
Bioremediation, Neils Cofield and Pete Tatham
Biochar, Andy Ross
Biochar (talk), David Hutchinson
Biochar (demo), David Hutchinson
Urban Metabolism and Urban Agriculture, Chiara Tornaghi