Our soils are living, breathing ecosystems and the foundation from which over 90% of our food comes from, yet its significance is often overlooked. With growing concerns over food security and food access, many people are turning to their own backyards and boulevards to grow food for their families. To establish a thriving and productive urban food garden, there is a need to ‘grow your soil’ before you ‘grow your food.’ Since 1992, the Compost Education Centre has been a Fernwood institution offering soil science, composting and urban food production education to the community. Now we’re taking our passion for teaching the importance of healthy soil systems to the next level with an exciting new soil testing project.

HealingCitySoilsThe Healing City Soils Project is a partnership between the Compost Education Centre, Danielle Stevenson of DIY Fungi and Royal Roads University and is funded by the City of Victoria and the Victoria Foundation. The project will offer free soil testing for heavy metals to people interested in growing food in the communities of Victoria and Esquimalt. Given Victoria’s industrial past, testing your soil for heavy metals is an important first step in urban food production. The soil test results will be uploaded onto an interactive online map to create a picture of soil health throughout the city. This map will be paired with workshops at the Compost Education Centre and a series of factsheets to empower people with the knowledge and skills needed to grow food safely and heal the soil with compost, plants and mushrooms.

Bridging urban agriculture, composting, food literacy, ecological restoration and bioremediation, this project brings together the municipalities of Victoria and Esquimalt, local post-secondary institutions, food security organizations and people who are interested in growing food and building the soil beneath their feet.

A key piece of this project is raising awareness and sharing information and skills to inspire safe and healthy food production here in the city. Interested residents of the City of Victoria and the Township of Esquimalt can apply to have their soil tested by visiting http://www.compost.bc.ca/healing-city-soils/ before March 29th 2016.