Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Eleanor Lum And Joshua Arnold (2014)

Healing from the Ground Up: Soil Testing, Storytelling, and Ecological Restoration in Richmond, CA

Healing from the Ground Up is a community based, participatory educational project whose mission is to assess and map the state of soil health in the city of Richmond, California, for the purposes of empowering communities with necessary tools to reclaim urban soils for agriculture and health. Through a participatory soil mapping process we will identify, test, and plot by GPS areas currently and potentially used for urban agriculture, creating a baseline reference point for the state of soils throughout Richmond. In addition, we will collaborate with the community to design and create a handcrafted map detailing their stories of the places being sampled. This map will explore and document how the soil testing ts into the lived experiences of the community through oral histories of people’s connections to the land, (i.e., old farms or gardens, past contamination events, etc.) and the potential for future practicing urban farmers. Lastly, to address the marginal soils, we will implement worm composting systems and hold educational workshops on their ability to be a critical mechanism in reclaiming neglected land; reducing erosion, improving drainage and water retention, controlling pathogens and most importantly, remediating soil by immobilizing heavy metals, helping to empower the community to implement remediation efforts in order to expand urban agriculture initiatives. This combination of soil testing, mapping and worm composting has the possibility of dramatically changing urban land while connecting people to the very basis of what sustains us as people, the soil.

Letters Home


Ellie Lum is an accomplished business owner, artist, and graduate in Conservation and Resource Studies with an emphasis in ecoliteracy outdoor education. As a business owner of over 15 years in a craftsman-based business, R.E. Load Baggage Inc., she has honed her skills as a leader and teacher instructing those who worked with her how to master the craft of industrial sewing. Recently, she re- established The Student Organic Garden Association at UC Berkeley into a force to be reckoned with. She has led countless workshops in the student garden on subjects pertaining to urban agriculture. Ellie's passion lies in the intersection of education, art, and environmental justice. Joshua graduated with a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies in 2014 with an emphasis in agroecology, political ecology and environmental design. He developed his love for nature going on fishing trips with his grandfather to the Sierra throughout his childhood. After serving seven years in the Army and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, he decided his life's work should focus on environmental issues. Through his studies, he developed a passion for urban agriculture, and environmental design, he saw it as a way to address environmental justice problems and help people re-connect back with urban green spaces. Joshua hopes to serve as an interface between the research community and urban agriculturists; sharing knowledge on how to develop resilient local food systems.

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