Setting up a DIY facility for community soil testing and care (Pilot)


We are part of a collective that has been working together to establish a community soil clinic, offering free and low cost soil testing for growers, community gardeners and anyone with an interest in caring for their local environment. The soil clinic will hopefully one day offer a drop in space to connect, share skills, learn together about soil health, and make use of specialist equipment like microscopes and soil chemistry tests.

For many urban food growers, soil contamination is an unknown quantity, and people may have concerns about growing food for consumption. Yet, soil testing remains prohibitively expensive and the results can be hard to make sense of. We aim to provide tools for meaningful testing and learning so that visitors to the clinic can engage more with their soil.

The soil clinic's values are rooted in social justice, land justice, soil justice, food justice, racial justice, disability justice, and a desire to transform conditions which create oppression and inequity. As an organising team, we are brought together by a deep love for the land, soil, and the communities we are part of; we seek to nourish relationships as part of this project. We will centre Traditional Ecological Knowledges (TEK), and share a range of different approaches to knowing and relating to soil, attending to the ways that knowledge and power are unequally distributed between institutions and communities of soil-carers. This is not a “citizen science” project, we are “commoning” science instead, empowering ourselves to test, learn, relate, respond to and access soil and land in different ways.

We are currently carrying out a pilot project in 5 gardens across London to test different methods. We are also creating an online archive to share our learnings and reflections (coming soon), and are seeking funding for the next phase of this project.

The pilot has been funded by Necessity, London National Park City and the Landscape Research Group