Exposure to less contaminants in roof top gardens says Russian case study

24 Oct 2013 09.41 am by Renny Wijeyamohan

Images courtesy of Camilla Berner,

The produce of roof top gardens from two apartment buildings in St Petersburg, Russia had lower levels of heavy metal contamination than produce grown 30 kilometres (18 miles) outside of the city – reports Cityfarmer.


Alexander Gavrilov, Agriculture Director of the Center for Citizen Initiatives in St Petersburg says, “It is remarkable that vegetables tested for heavy metals from roof top gardens have lower levels of metal contaminants than vegetables bought and tested from city markets. Ground level gardens have slightly higher levels than in rooftop produce but still less than vegetables from market.“


The Roof Top Gardening Program was introduced to St Petersburg in 1993 by a group of food gardeners interested in implementing roof top gardening techniques pioneered by Dr Martin Price of the US Educational Concerns for Hunger Organisation – who visited St Petersburg two years earlier in 1991.


The findings of the St Petersburg case study are not surprising considering Russia’s environmental history. Rapid industrialisation coupled with a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy surrounding environmental contamination means that large swathes of the countryside remain ‘brownfield’ land.  Glenn E. Curtis reports that at 1990 nearly 40% of the country was categorised as under high or moderately high ecological stress.


The insulation of roof top gardens from pollutants like sewage, industrial run off and chemical contamination means that they can offer healthier produce for local gardeners. In Russia, where access to clean land is still a pressing issue for some, roof top gardens are a viable option to produce fruits and vegetables fit for human consumption.


roof top  

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