Chicago's Millennium Park

Cities are often thought of as concrete jungles. But under all that concrete is a whole lot of soil: complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, and organic matter that perform many critical functions.

We build on top of soil, we grow grass and gardens in it, we depend on it to filter pollutants and capture runoff. Yet soils in cities have often been neglected.

That’s now changing. As our world becomes increasingly urbanized, there is growing recognition among scientists, city planners, and urban gardeners that city soils require just as much attention and care as those in our farmlands.

Explore these pages to learn more about the roles that soils play in cities, and how you can help protect and nurture this vital urban resource.

Photo: Gardens in Chicago's Millennium Park (courtesy of Mike Mertz)




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August 16, 2017

It’s not every day United States history mixes with microbes in the soil. But when the turf on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was replaced, it offered scientists the opportunity to study…

April 12, 2017

You’re not the only one working hard in your garden or field. The ants who live in the soil are quite the farmers, too. They dig tunnels that provide holes for air and water. They produce organic…

March 08, 2017

Montreal: Famous for its churches, carriage rides…and urban agriculture.

Yes, urban agriculture. Montrealers have cultivated not only a love for food, but also a love for food grown…

January 04, 2017

Jennifer Weidhaas was teaching in West Virginia on January 9, 2014 when about 10,000 gallons of chemicals leaked into the Elk River. The concrete wall holding back the chemicals had eroded. The…