The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

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Welcome Andrew Laurion, NOFA/Mass Bioremediation Project Coordinator

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2019 December Issue Newsletter

By Caro Roszell, Education Director

URGE (Urban Resources * Garden Economics) is Andrew’s urban farming and edible landscaping company, offering services in the Springfield area

We are so pleased to announce that we have hired Andrew Laurion, urban farming entrepreneur, for the position of NOFA/Mass Bioremediation Project Coordinator! 

Andrew brings to this position his deep connections with the urban farming community in Springfield, a passion for regenerative urban gardening and small-scale farming, an entrepreneurial spirit (he runs his own urban farming and edible landscaping company called Urban Resources * Garden Economics) and enthusiasm for the cause of creating healthy soil. Through his work at URGE and through his connections with Gardening the Community and NOFA/Mass Food Access programs, Andrew has hosted workshops at gardens across Springfield teaching youth about soil science, building raised beds, composting, and other regenerative agriculture topics. 

In talking with Andrew about getting started on this project, he shared that: 

“I am very passionate about bioremediation for the Springfield and Worcester areas. I believe that a healthy soil system in an urban environment will have a positive domino effect on health, food security, and the climate. Many of our spaces to use for gardening and farming in the city were home to industrial and commercial operations which left soils damaged and contaminated.”

Andrew with his infant son Khepri
Andrew with his infant son Khepri

The project that Andrew will be managing is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and involves partnerships with Gardening the Community and Worcester Regional Environmental Council (REC). Andrew will work with staff from both organizations to apply specific biological soil remediation techniques created by agronomist John Kempf and ecological designer Nance Klehm to specific areas controlled by these organizations that previously have not been used to grow food due to concerns about hydrocarbon and/or heavy metal contamination in the soil. Over three years, the project will trial these methods on the native soil on the Worcester and Springfield plots, assessing whether either or both of these methods resulted in a change in detectible contaminant levels. Ultimately the goal of the project is to investigate alternatives to the widely accepted primary method of bioremediation, which involves scraping away soils, covering the subsoil with barriers (like plastic fabrics, gravel layers, concrete or clay) and replacing the removed topsoil with manufactured soils-- an expensive and troublesome approach that often results in soils prone to dryness, nutrient imbalances and hydrophobia, creating long-term management challenges for urban farmers. 

Keep an eye out for updates from our project and for Andrew’s work helping our education team put together some upcoming podcasts, webinars, and education events in Worcester and Springfield around healing contaminated soils and related topics.

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