Want to take part in a research project? Sudbury Shared Harvest is seeking host garden volunteers to explore the state of heavy metal contamination of local soils to determine the safety of growing food in the city.
It is part of a multi-year project. The group is looking for volunteers willing to host a small number of plants in existing home vegetable gardens.
“We’re looking for people who already grow food directly in the ground rather than in raised beds,” said Carrie Regenstreif, executive director of Sudbury Shared Harvest. “That’s important because the soil for raised beds could have come from anywhere, whereas in-ground gardens will probably include at least some soil from that location.”
Volunteer garden hosts would need to make available about one square metre of garden space for around 10 lettuce plants and 10 radish plants. Sudbury Shared Harvest staff will provide and plant the seeds and the home gardeners will water them normally along with the rest of their garden.
When the plants are at the edible stage, the group’s staff will collect as many as are needed, which will be dried and analyzed for a selection of heavy metals.
The research is led by Dr. Eric Sager from Trent University and funded in part by the S.M. Blair Family Foundation and the Government of Canada’s Canada Summer Jobs program. Regenstreif said the long-term goal is to share results with the community in the form of guidelines for growing food safely in local soils.
“In 2020 and 2021, the research team collected and analyzed soil and food samples from six edible forest garden locations,” the group said. “In 2022, they collected rain samples to help determine levels of heavy metals currently being deposited via air, as distinguished from those deposited at any time in the past.”
Those interested in participating in the study as a garden host can sign up on the Sudbury Shared Harvest website here, SudburySharedHarvest.ca/research.