Jennifer Broutin Farah

Selected Projects

CitySoil On site in Detroit meeting with the community and discussing needs for soil safety.
CitySoil Brucker XREF handheld monitor for soil sampling.
CitySoil I am in Detroit collecting soil samples from specified lots for testing.
CitySoil Obtaining soil samples and recording coordinates of each sample.
CitySoil Soil samples collected for examination.
CitySoil Looking at the element spectrum for a soil sample during analysis.
CitySoil Graph of elements in soil sample.
CitySoil Our team brainstorming together to come up with solutions for soil safety in Detroit.
CitySoil Flow diagram that describes our strategy for considering soil safety in Detroit and making tools available to the community.
CitySoil Engage the community through awareness and importance of soil safety.
CitySoil Learn about soil test results by simplifying the process - making it easier to understand complex soil results from the lab with a simple infographic.
CitySoil Sharing through the City Soil website as a repository for information on soil safety.
CitySoil Sharing through mapping of community soil conditions, this is an example map of soil sampling using the Ushihidi platform.



– urban agriculture, soil testing, workshop, MIT Media Lab, IDEO

with Steven Keating, Gian Pangaro, Ebony Roberts, Baratunde Thurston

CitySoil: Detroit, is a three-part plan to engage, educate, and share information about how to test soil and improve soil performance. We focused on ways to educate residents about what questions to ask about their soil; how to test the soil and what to look for in the results; and how to share this information with neighbors and other residents through tools like interactive maps and data visualizations.

We also went onsite and monitored soil conditions on various plots of land in the downtown Detroit area, where people are either growing or plan to grow food on vacated lots of land. Using a special tool called an XREF handheld monitor, we were able to quickly discern the elemental composition of the soil. We used this as an initial analysis tool.

We worked with key community and urban agriculture groups in Detroit, such as D Town Farms, to discover what current issues are involved in understanding and promoting soil safety in the community. We discovered through this process that there are many tools in place and at the disposal of citizens in the community, but access and knowledge of these tools is not widely understood.

It was at this point that our focus pivoted from intervention to awareness, in order to target the root of the problem - widespread learning about the importance of soil safety and how to test and make these results more publicly accessible.