Sustainable Seattle and Basilica Bio seek support for our Soil Health and Justice Initiative (SHJI) – a community-driven, advocacy initiative harnessing grassroots groups expertise to transform our soil, water, and food systems. In 2022, we received multi-year King County funding to partially fund an advocacy position and education/awareness activities. Funding would support the expansion of this position and activities.
The SHJI is a project of S2’s Soil Health and Justice Coalition, a collective of BIPOC researchers, urban farmers, and environmental justice workers who work to:
Understand the extent of legacy and ongoing soil contamination in Seattle area urban gardens
Inform communities about soil contamination watershed affects
Implement regenerative farming practices to reverse soil contamination effects
Change unjust soil quality policies for commercially available soil
In Spring 2020, community groups reported contaminated compost was purchased from Cedar Grove – a King County contracted compost/soil company. Testing by community scientists, University of Washington researchers, and S2 revealed Cedar Grove compost contained nearly 4.5x the recommended level of petroleum products and the arsenic and lead levels exceeded EPA limits. Cedar Grove’s response was these tests were not required and testing is the customer’s responsibility. In response, SHJI was formed to build community understanding of contaminated soil, its waterway effects, and empower community action. Our aim is to change policies to include mandatory testing of landscaping products from vendors contracted by regional government agencies.
SHJI is in alignment with Rose priorities as testing shows Cedar Grove and other providers distribute soils that create nonpoint pollution leading to polluted groundwater, wetland die off, and decreased fish reproduction. We will assess the impacts of local soil providers and support our community in addressing policy makers to create safer soil and water.