In response to the increasing concerns of COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution for our volunteers and participants, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Soil Kitchen. We are focused on mitigation strategies to protect the community and, while we are saddened by this cancellation, it is our responsibility to put health and safety first. We hope to see you at next year's Soil Kitchen.


Get free soil testing for your food garden

The Soil Kitchen is an annual event that provides a free opportunity for food growers to test what is in their soil. Soil testing helps food growers to know what nutrients their soil may be lacking and if harmful heavy metals are present. The Soil Kitchen will be hosted at the East Austin Garden Fair on Saturday, April 4, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, 2608 Gonzales St., Austin, TX 78702.

Soil from backyard, school or community food gardens is accepted. Soil samples from flower beds, lawns or non-food gardens will not be accepted. All eligible samples will be collected during the event and sent to certified experts who will screen and test the soil for nutrients and for the presence of heavy metals. The results from the testing will be released four to six weeks after the event. 

Preparing your soil sample

  1. Gather a garden trowel, one quart-sized zip-top plastic bag, a permanent marker, a measuring cup and a clean, shallow pan. 
  2. Use the marker to label the zip-top bag with your initials, the date the samples were taken and the closest street intersection to where the sample is from. (Please do not give the exact address). 
  3. Dig five to ten holes in different spots around the food garden. Use your trowel to make a cone shape in the soil and dig at least six inches down. Mix all the soil together in the shallow pan.
  4. Remove any rocks, grass or dead plant material from your soil and mix it together. 
  5. Measure two cups of the mixed soil. Put it into your labeled zip-top bag and seal it shut. 
  6. Drop off your soil sample at the Soil Kitchen during the East Austin Garden Fair. You’ll receive instructions on how to get your results following the event.

How to collect a soil sample graphic

The Soil Kitchen is sponsored by the City of Austin’s Brownfields Revitalization Office and the Region 6 Environmental Protection Agency.

Visit Austin's Grow Green page and the Travis County Master Gardeners for more helpful gardening advice! The Soil Kitchen is part of the East Austin Garden Fair.