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Fostering Urban Agriculture through Brownfield Redevelopment – Ann Carroll, Environmental  Protection Agency
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Fostering Urban Agriculture through Brownfield Redevelopment – Ann Carroll, Environmental Protection Agency


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  • Boot Camp Farm, Bridgeport CT. Ribbon cutting and opening ceremony, September 2013. Learn more at:
  • Prior to the passage of the Brownfields law, the definition of brownfields was more simply abandoned or underused industrial or commercial property. This was broadened to include a broader universe of sites with passage of the Brownfield amendments to CERCLA including petroleum contaminated sites, mine scarred land and sites contaminated with controlled substances.
  • There is no typical brownfield contaminant, because all sites are different. But the following contaminants are those often reported by brownfield grantees.
  • The big picture – we have a number of contaminated sites that we are working to cleanup and put into productive reuse -
    BF - 11,568 sites that EPA has provided funding for between FY03-FY11, ACRES
    RCRA - 3,689 RCRA Corrective Action 2020 Universe sites, Data from RCRAinfo
    Superfund - 1,393 sites, doesn’t include delisted sites
  • Learn more at:
  • Learn more about former Boyle Galvanizing site at:
    Learn more about Greensgrow Farm at:
  • In Cleveland, a local co-op used EPA and HUD brownfield funding to launch a commercial agriculture site on a contaminated site.
    Since completing the assessment and clean up, Green City Growers’ recent greenhouse construction represents the first phase of a multi-phase project aimed at food production and job creation for local residents.
    The project was funded by the Evergreen co-op, which is supported by the Cleveland Foundation.
    The non-profit Evergreen Cooperative Corporation (thanks to EPA, HUD and Cleveland Foundation funds) has established this greenhouse.
    They have created 25 new jobs at Green City Grower Greenhouse in Cleveland since opening this spring and planned to produce 5-6 million heads of lettuce annually and another 300,000 pounds of herbs annually - all under five acres of greenhouse.
    Learn more at:
  • Thanks to Jen Bildersee, City of Portland Oregon for this lovely slide and reminder that non-scientific and factually incorrect information abounds. Please consult credible, scientific sources in the literature.
    Sunflowers are lovely but they don’t remove lead from soil. Or to be more accurate and to quote a colleague, planting sunflowers will reduce lead levels in soils – in about 200 years!
  • It’s also important to ensure safe materials are used as you don’t want to introduce contaminants or contaminated soil into your clean growing areas due to poor material selection.
  • There are other non-food production opportunities for using brownfields or other contaminated properties that can improve food access and local food security. Here are only a few examples.
  • I particularly want to bring your attention to the first project listed – Bridgeport CT’s Boot Camp Farm on the now former Mt. Trashmore site. This will be a hydroponic urban agriculture operation in a ‘food desert’ area as part of PTSD treatment for veterans. For more information, please see:
    And – several Veteran Farming projects
    The other examples are from the Rid-All Green Partnership, Cleveland (left)
    and Lawrence, MA (right) garden opening with Groundwork Lawrence.
  • Though we speak different languages, environmental protection, public health, agriculture and community and economic development and social justice have overlapping interests in working together to restore sites and create grower areas and improved access to healthy and safe food.
  • Some of many resources.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Fostering Urban Agriculture through Brownfield Redevelopment Ann Carroll, MPH US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Brownfields & Land Revitalization 1 Opening soon - Boot Camp Farm, Bridgeport, CT
    • 2. 2 What is a Brownfield Site ? A Brownfield isA Brownfield is ““real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse ofreal property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potentialwhich may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, orpresence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”contaminant.” The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act signed January 11, 2002. Firth Sterling, Allegheny Coun
    • 3. 3 Typical Brownfield Contaminants? •Petroleum and hydrocarbons •Lead and other metals •Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) •Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) •Pesticides •Asbestos, mixtures … O’Hara Township, Allegheny Coun
    • 4. Land Cleanup Programs 4
    • 5. 5 The Good News? • EPA and State brownfields programs already have done a lot to assess and clean sites! • Brownfields to community gardens, flower gardens, urban farms, farmers markets, even food banks documented in success stories. • Reviewing our records found reports of brownfield assessment and cleanup in every region since 1999 - >50 projects and growing... • A number of garden and urban farm projects highlighted on our website-
    • 6. Cautionary Tale • Garden for >30 years in a historic area of Sacramento • When portion proposed for housing, testing found lead, PAHs, pesticides • 1,900 yd3 soil removed – 24 to 40 inches in different areas • $423,000 leveraged for cleanup and garden • New garden has 2 raised beds for elder and all-abled gardeners 6
    • 7. Boyles Galvanizing to Greensgrow Farm 7 • Before (zinc galvanizing plant, Superfund emergency removal, capped + 5 ft gravel) • Greensgrow Farm, Philadelphia, PA • >$800,000 annually, CSA, Farmer’s Market, two bee hives, biofuel, and catalyzing neighborhood change!
    • 8. Former Brownfield, Cleveland, OH 8
    • 9. Green City Grower, Cleveland, OH
    • 10. Risk = Hazard + Exposure • No Risk because there is No Hazard! • No Risk because there is No Exposure! • Risk = Hazard + Exposure to Hazard on site – Physical hazards (glass, open foundations, needles,…) – Environmental hazards – Soil contaminants – Exposure - dermal, ingestion and inhalation risks from preparing site and gardening – Exposure – eating food – surface contamination or plant uptake Versus Risks of: • Doing nothing with blighted site? • Crime, fires, dumping, no jobs, lower property value, tax base • Reduced access to services – food, health care, neighbors
    • 11. What is safe? • Depends on who is exposed • Depends on duration and level of exposure • A primary population of concern – children! • Other population exposures to consider? – Older gardeners – ‘Urban Farmers’ – Food consumers 11
    • 12. • We put all gardens on known brownfield contaminated sites? – We would know test them, contaminants would be identified and addressed – Professionals do the testing, collect samples and determine what analyses will be done – They will be interpreted and risks will be managed and safe material will be used for replacement to protect public health and the environment! – Land will be recycled for a safe use and all will learn and ‘grow’ in the process. • Advocates - are you testing for contaminants? So, If…
    • 13. Steps to Solutions Looking for a property for growing? • Talk to the Experts! • Find a property or site known to be clean! – States and some cities keep an inventory of properties – Ask the State or local brownfield program or voluntary cleanup program (VCP) • No clean properties? Work with State or EPA to test or clean it. – Get your city agency to apply for EPA funds to assess and clean sites – Request technical assistance (Targeted Brownfield assessment – TBA, Technical Assistance on Brownfields – TAB) – Use safe materials – soil, wood, mulch! – Use scientific methods
    • 14. Seek Science in References! Source: Jen Bildersee, BF Coordinator, City of Portland OR
    • 15. http://www.kirsch- _treated_2by6.jpg Treated Wood Products • CCA (copper, chromium, arsenic) • Creosote (with carcinogenic organic chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)) • Leach into nearby soils, elevating soil metal or PAH concentrations
    • 16. 16 Brownfield & Urban agriculture options • Edible landscaping • Community gardens and orchards • School Gardens • Urban farms/hoop and Greenhouses • Green roof and/or walls • ‘City chickens’ & Beekeeping • Aquaculture or livestock • Horticulture – herbs, nurseries • Farmer’s Markets • Commercial kitchen • Groceries and supermarkets • Food manufacture • Food ‘safety net’ or food bank • Non-food - Biobased products Brownfields, Urban Ag &/Or Other Options Emeryville, CA (left), Brass City Farm, Waterburg, CT (below) Kenosha, WI (top) Missoula, MT (right)
    • 17. Gardens and greenhouses • *Boot Camp Farm ribbon cutting, Sept 2013, Bridgeport, CT (top) • Spruce Street garden, Lawrence, MA (bottom right) • Cleveland, Ohio (bottom left)
    • 18. 18 Brownfields to Farmers Market (before/after) Shelton, Connecticut (above) & Santa Fe, New Mexico (below lft) and Bellow Falls, Vermont (below rt) Farmer’s market and Local food
    • 19. Questions & Discussion How can we better leverage our respective knowledge, experience, research, relationships, and investment in environmental cleanup to create healthier communities? SSSA, Tampa, November 5, 2013
    • 20. 20 Urban Ag HandbooksUrban Ag Handbooks 6
    • 21. 21 Resources Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA)Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) • EPA Region,EPA Region, • State/Tribal Brownfield/Voluntary Cleanup ProgramState/Tribal Brownfield/Voluntary Cleanup Program Grant (local government) – (local government) – • Assessment , Revolving Loan Fund or CleanupAssessment , Revolving Loan Fund or Cleanup • Job Training/ Environmental Workforce Development and Job TrainingJob Training/ Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Information, Questions and Technical AssistanceInformation, Questions and Technical Assistance • EPA Brownfields, Brownfields, • • EPA-funded Kansas State University, Kansas State University, • Technical Assistance to Brownfield Communities (TAB)Technical Assistance to Brownfield Communities (TAB) • New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), • ASTSWMO,, ERCLA_and_Brownfields.htmERCLA_and_Brownfields.htm
    • 22. Ann Carroll US EPA, Brownfields Columbia, Lancaster Coun