Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 42-15
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


LOUIS, Emma Rose1, ALLEN, Phillip2 and FLOOD, Jonathan1, (1)Geography, Frostburg State University, 101 Braddock Rd, Frostburg, MD 21532, (2)Geography, Frostburg State University, 101, Braddock Road, Frostburg, MD 21532

Frostburg Grows (FG), a 5-acre sustainable organic agriculture initiative established in 2014, is located in Allegany County, Western Maryland (WMD). The FG project is situated on an extensively modified landscape that typifies the legacy of the deep and strip-mining coal extraction period of Central Appalachia. Recent land-use of the site includes being used as a county dump and to store FEMA trailers. The need for revitalization of human-altered landscapes for environmental, economic and social growth in the region is essential. FG is an innovative approach to repurposing and rejuvenating an extensively impacted environment. WMD is an economically depressed food desert, signifying a critical need for sustainable agricultural initiatives in the region. Strip mining and the associated chemical contamination of the remaining soils, has removed the potential for traditional agricultural practices. FG built 6 high-tunnel greenhouses with raised grow beds, a native tree nursery, and a composting facility. The greenhouses allow an 4-6-week extension to the traditional regional growing season. The soil used by FG was imported and has been extensively utilized for 5 highly productive growing seasons. Compost for the soils is generated on site from organic yard waste from the city of Frostburg. Commencing on January 2nd, 2018, long-term soil monitoring began, the initial baseline characteristics e.g. nutrient levels, organic content, pH, elemental composition via X-ray fluorescence, and particle size are presented here. The project will continue to monitor the soil with emphasis on tracking the potential mobility of herbicides, e.g. glyphosate (Round Up) from the Frostburg City yard waste and metals, aluminum (recycled road signs used on site) entering the soil communities. The monitoring program will enable long-term land-use management techniques to be developed to allow FG to be a sustainable productive organic agriculture center for the foreseeable future.

Keywords: agriculture, geochemistry, metals, sustainability, soils