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Milwaukee: Urban farmers highlight soil contamination

Published On: May 15 2013 09:04:27 PM CDT   Updated On: May 15 2013 10:40:03 PM CDT
Okra, garden, vegetables

Kellie Keesee/CNN

MADISON, Wis. -

An urban farming organization is raising awareness about contaminated soil in Milwaukee.

Growing Power, a national nonprofit in Milwaukee that promotes sustainable farming methods, said a major challenge residents face in growing food is the poor quality of city soil.

Chief Executive Officer Will Allen said most soil in urban areas contains arsenic and other contaminants. His organization focuses on creating compost as an alternative.

Allen said Growing Power collects grinds from coffeehouses, spent grains from breweries and spoiled produce from wholesalers. The waste produces about 1 million pounds of compost each year that is used by the organization for planting.

Allen spoke Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has been working with the university to create an institute devoted to urban farming and nutrition.

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  • PHOTOS: Madison store helps collect hundreds of Teddy bears for police

    MADISON, Wis.--A west Madison store is part of an effort to collect hundreds of stuffed animals to donate to six police departments in Southern Wisconsin.

    Todd Merryfield, owner of The Learning Shop at 714 S. Gammon Road, said the store is collecting the bears for officers who use them to help comfort children with whom police come in contact.

    "This is a great way to support what (police) do," Merryfield said. "Those are the kids that need something like this to reassure them, calm them down, and let them know that things are all right."

    Nearly 500 plush animals were donated Tuesday, a Learning Shop spokeswoman said. The Madison store's effort is part of a larger initiative through the Bears for Humanity organization. 

    Photos by Doug Wahl

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