Soil Kitchen is a new temporary public art project addressing issues of sustainability specific to the urban environment.

The project will incorporate community involvement, naturally generated energy, local foods, food exchange, the creative reuse of a brownfield site, and brownfield mapping. This new site-specific public artwork will provide a stage for interaction, dialogue, and education on topics of sustainability that impact every Philadelphian.

Timed to coincide with the arrival of the 2011 National Brownfields Conference in Philadelphia, Soil Kitchen is the first-ever temporary public art project to be commissioned by the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, and will be executed by the artist group Futurefarmers with a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation.

  1. Soil Sampling Instructions… in Comic Strip Form

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to collect your soil sample for testing at the Soil Kitchen. This handy visual guide shows you the right way (click the image to enlarge further), and there’s written instructions further below for those with a literary lean.

    STEP 1: Identify the sample collection site. Areas nearest to your house are liekly to have elevated lead levels if your house was painted with lead-based paint at some point. However, if this is where you garden or plan to garden, the location may be appropriate.

    STEP 2: Consider drawing a sketch of the site and/or take a photo for future reference.

    STEP 3: Collect a grab sample (one) or composite sample (multiple samples mixed together). Given that the Soil Kitchen can generally only arrange for one analysis per resident, a composite sample is likely to be most appropriate.

    STEP 4: Sample depth - If analyzing for gardening purposes, collect samples from roughly the root depth of the vegetable or plant, If this is unknown, or there will be multiple vegetables/plants, sample from the top six inches. If concerned about exposure to surface soils (ie: children’s play areas, tracking soil into house, bare soils) collect samples from the top one or two inches.

    STEP 5: Using a clean trowel, scoop or spoon, collect five to ten small samples (a few ounces) from the area of interest, place into a foil pan (or similar container), remove any large rocks, stones or debris, and mix well.

    STEP 6: IF THE SOIL IS VERY MOIST or WET (stays in a ball when you squeeze it together) ALLOW IT TO DRY OVERNIGHT by leaving it spread out on the pan before bringing it in for analysis (very moist soil takes longer to analyze by FPXRF).

    STEP 7: Place the soil in a ziploc, quart-size bag. Quarter to half full should be fine.

    STEP 8: Label the sample bag with your name, phone number and number of locations that you composited.

    STEP 9: Bring your sample to the Soil Kitchen for analysis!

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