Not So Good News :(

The soil tests were abysmal. Two samples were taken each representing half of the field. The field was transected into two halves, A and B. Then using a zig zag pattern, 30 soil samples from a depth of 30 cm were collected from each side. These samples were put into 2 especially designated bags and shaken. A single sample was then taken from each bag and taken to the labs. (We used this method as soil testing is hugely expensive. Thankfully the lab did our tests for free though they would have cost $125.00

The results can be seen on the attachment.soil-tests-kibera

Kibera organic site

The picture shows the clear separation between two soil types. The grey soil (closest) was brought in a year ago from a construction site.You can also see the office block at the far end and the area of space beside it just at the end of our planting beds, designated to be a community center.

Our samples were high in Zinc, Boron, Copper and Lead!! The sample that had the largest portion of the ‘construction site soil’ was the worst. The other sample wasn’t as bad but was still a little alarming.
I feel the contamination in the second sample was from the ‘construction site soil’ which due to the method we used in collecting the soil samples was in a lower percentage. I’m hoping that this is the case and to try to prove this we are now doing another test on the red soil area.

We have consulted with a few experts on how to decontaminate the soil, Anne Bruntse has advised us to grow sunflowers and indian mustard for a season, and then to destroy the crop………somehow…..
I will discuss further with her today over lunch…….

Our options are 1) To remove the soil 2) To redesign the plot and plonk the community center on the bad soil which will allow us to use their good soil for the farm. 3) To grow sunflowers and indian mustard. The problem here is these plants will be consumed as we are in the slums. It would look beautiful but would be dangerous.

I think we will probably go with relocating the community center and growing right up to the office block. It will mean rethinking the seed bed area, which ironically is already where we would need it if we have to change! So on the positive side of things, we are actually ahead of schedule 🙂

Meanwhile we have all learnt something new……..sunflowers and indian mustard extract lead and zinc from the soils!

Fingers crossed that the new test will come out in our favour!!

3 thoughts on “Not So Good News :(

  1. Hmmm, not superb news but at least you did the test and are looking into the alternatives. Don’t forget the bamboo possibility – though you may have already discussed it with ICRAF (Dr Chin Ong, who recently moved after many years in Kenya, was the expert there, not sure who it is now). Many people do not know that bamboo shoots can be eaten, so it would likely not pose the dangers that obviously edible crops might.

  2. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for your comment, I absolutely haven’t forgotten about the use of bamboo and totally agree that of all the plant extraction options bamboo is probably the best. Hopefully though the new tests will confirm what I expect and we shall just move the community block onto the area we are unable to grow. W will probably still have a smaller area of contaminated soil and can grow a bamboo hedge that will act as security from geese etc as well as a clean up ‘crop’.

    Thanks again for your comments,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *