Success StoryMore Vacant Lots in Louisville Become Available for Purchase or Lease



More Vacant Lots in Louisville Become Available for Purchase or Lease

Author: Phillip Long

Planning Unit: Jefferson County CES

Major Program: Community Engagement

Plan of Work: Promoting Sustainable Agriculture, Natural Resources and Urban Forestry

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

Since we use these stories as a resource for multiple requests, don’t restrict Success Stories only to traditional Extension appointments and activities. Any accomplishments and efforts that are noteworthy may be included.

The problem

Since 2019, the ag agent in Jefferson County has been involved in an Urban Extension Institute project involving the Louisville Metro Landbank Authority Vacant and Abandoned lots in west and south Louisville neighborhoods. Over 350 vacant lots (without structures) potentially could be used for green space, orchards, pollinator gardens, and residential or community gardens. Data show that improving vacant and rundown properties would increase the existing property values, reduce crime, provide healthy, local food and increase local jobs. 

The educational program response

The Office of Housing and Community Development where the Landbank Authority is housed, has asked the Jefferson County Ag Agent to review applications for vacant lots that involve urban agriculture projects. Recently, 3 applicants have applied to purchase or lease vacant lots for urban ag uses. Most, if not all, would involve soil cultivation, disturbance where dust particles would become airborne, and/or there would be direct contact with the soil. Because of the quality and safety of the soil, I’ve been asked to collect soil samples from the vacant lots to determine levels of heavy metals including lead. Several neighbors in the communities where the soil is being collected have asked for information regarding the project. 

The participants/target audience

Local residents living in the neighborhoods wishing to purchase or lease vacant lots are eligible to apply.

Program impact or participant response.

Most of the lots sampled have levels of lead that prevent direct cultivation of the existing soil. However, there are mitigation strategies that include adjusting the soil pH, adding compost, or using raised beds with clean soil brought in from a known site. Other uses that may be of less concern would include pollinator gardens, orchards, or using native shrubs and trees to mitigate the heat island effect. 






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