Oakland, like San Francisco before it, is rushing to accommodate urban gardeners by revising its regulations to allow people to sell produce they grow in the city. There's one catch, says East Bay Express's Nate Seltenrich: Much of the soil in West Oakland is contaminated with dangerous levels of lead. Groups like the great City Slicker Farms, which installs backyard gardens in low-income households, plant raised beds to avoid the problem, but the potential cost of remediating lead contamination (think $$$) has scuttled plans for at least one community garden.
The article raises all kinds of interesting points, such as whether the new regulations should require soil testing in order to limit the risk for lead poisoning. San Francisco is aware of the problem, too. The city's Environmental Health Department recently released a guide (PDF) for evaluating and remediating lead contamination in urban gardens, and if you're concerned about your own soil, Seltenrich's article recommends sending it to the University of Massachusetts, which only charges $10.