Are you a gardener? Have you ever stopped to wonder if your soil is contaminated? No? Most people probably don’t because they naturally assume that they are protected from pollutants and contaminants. But as they say, “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” right? And wouldn’t it be better to know that the soil where you are growing your beans and tomatoes doesn’t contain harmful particulates?
Jackie James is a community activist who became active in environmental matters due to the Tonawanda Coke scandal, when the company was found to be guilty of gross negligence as it released massive amounts of harmful pollutants into surrounding communities.
“It all started with a group of us sitting around a table discussing our individual health struggles and our right to better health and a cleaner environment,” shared Jackie, who founded Citizen Science Community Resource Center (CSCR) as a way to protect communities from pollution. “As time went on, and we learned more about the potential of industrial pollutants, we became concerned about our soil and if it was safe to garden (or for kids and pets).”
Citizen Science Community Resources empowers communities by providing the tools to fight for public health and environmental justice.
At the same time, Jackie realized that it was not easy for individuals to test their soils, which is why she and her team set out to develop a ready-to-use tasting kit called the EnviroBucket. The 5-gallon bucket is an all-in-one tool kit, complete with proper forms, an instructional manual following EPA procedures and protocols, and all the gear necessary to sample and test soil.
“We have spent hours and hours sourcing quality parts (like stainless steel trowel, bowl, etc.), plus, everything is open source, so if folks want to build the kit themselves they can,” Jackie explained. “But people prefer the convenience and our support – we have spent several hours writing the manual and quick guide, which includes tons of technical information that we have also made open source. There is no product out there like this – the cheaper versions do not test for environmental contamination. For instance, what you would get at Home Depot – those kits test for ph, nitrates, etc., not pollutants. Our kit is also reusable. The test results are 100% accurate. The kit is great for community groups and urban farmers because they can use the same kit again and again.
“We wanted to make it easy for folks to do what we did. Plus, 100% of the kit profits go back to help our community programs. It’s a win-win!” said Jackie, while adding that the kit was developed over the course of a number of years, by people who are not only knowledgeable, they are concerned about the health of others.
We don’t like to think about what’s in the soil of our yards, except for the good stuff. But if you think that you live in an area that might have a history of contaminants, like lead or arsenic, then you might want to consider purchasing an EnviroBucket for some peace of mind.
CSCR has announced a pre-order sale from March 15th-April 11th which will allow gardeners to get a jump start on the planting season by making sure their soil is safe and healthy.
The EnviroBucket Soil Sampling Toolkit is $159
The first 25 orders get a free re-supply kit and a 10 % discount on testing. 100% of profits support CSCR’s programs.
Interested residents can learn more and/or get involved by attending one of two free national workshops co-hosted by Public Lab, and SciStarter.
- Public Lab/CSCR Workshop: March 31st, 2021, 1-2pm EST
- SciStarter/CSCR Workshop: April 5, 2021, 6-7pm EST
For more information and to register, visit CSCR’s website.
Any questions may be directed to the CSCR office at (716) 873-6191