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Soil health Urban/Suburban vs Rural

Alex Moffitt
Posts: 170
Location: Australia
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So I am wondering, about sources of contaminates for urban and suburban environments, I would like to make a list of Contaminates that get into suburban and urban soils and where they come from.

I would also like to discuss the concepts of soil health management in urban/suburban areas vs Rural areas.

Then after this thread has been fleshed out, I would like to start a follow up thread on moving forward with the collected information.

I am happy for all information and no information is to little and even stories about what you have found digging in your garden is desired.

Stefanie Hollmichel
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
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I know in Minneapolis, Minnesota where I live there are sections of the city with arsenic contaminated soil that came from various industrial manufacturers that are no longer around.

Lead is also a common contaminate here from paint and other sources.
Abraham Palma
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Location: Málaga, Spain
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Soil health management urban/rural.

Typically smaller plots, Hard to do any earthwork. Little space for ponds whatsoever.
Access to tap water. Runoff water from the streets.
Easy access to gardening shops.
Probably easy to find grass clippings, wood chips and even compost.
Higher temperatures and less wind.
Risk of pollution.
Management can be very intensive, but the resulting ecosystem may be too small for big predators.

Earthworks and ponds can be made.
Access to a well. Gray water system is easier to implement. Less oposition to humanure.
Easier to find manure and big machinery.
Easier to work with farm animals.
More and more diverse wildlife.
Fire hazard.
Extensive management shows slower progress, but the evolution is more resilient.
Debbie Ann
Posts: 69
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
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I was very aware of this topic and did lots of careful research before I bought my one acre property here in Sedona 11 years ago. This is a small town of about 10,000 people.

I bought this property because it is at the top of a small hill and I wouldn't get polluted runoff from adjoining properties. Both of my neighbors spray their yards and around their houses for weeds and bugs. Yuck! Instead, they can have my runoff which is all organic.

I'm in high desert country and I save as much rainwater as I can but I still have to mostly water with 'city' water. (100 – 115 degrees- 7 months of the year.) Here, our water company has several wells drilled right here in town. It's good water from the aquifer beneath us. I read the water reports each year and they show it is well monitored, filtered for things like arsenic and they use almost no chlorine. It's pretty good stuff. All their pipes have been installed in the last 30 or so years so we don't have lead pipes to worry about like many other cities in the U.S. But it's not cheap!

A big downside is that I have not found any arrangement to get organic manure, straw or even compost. Lots of people in the valley have horses, goats, chickens but none of them use organic feeds. They are either too expensive to ship here or just not available. Except for bags of organic soil I can't get them from the stores either. I tried using non-organic alpaca manure from a local farmer one year and it was a total disaster. Nothing grew in those beds for another 3 years.

And when I first moved here I had intended to use wood chips to mulch, mulch and mulch some more. Unfortunately when I contacted all the local tree trimmers and landscapers they each said they could not guarantee that their wood chips didn't contain large amounts of chemicals, herbicides and pesticides. Lots of people here spray their ornamental trees and use systemic insecticides, especially on their fruit trees. Aside from all the usual bugs and mistletoe, apparently 15  years ago they had a big infestation of the Colorado Bark Beetles which sent everybody into a tither. Everybody began spraying. So I collect donations of leaves every fall (Craigslist) from people with cottonwoods, sycamores, and birch trees that aren't sprayed and use that for mulch.  And as I clear more land every year of scrub oak and thorn bushes I grow more and more stuff to 'chop and drop' and use as mulch. It's not wood chips but still very, very helpful. Great thread.
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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