About the project


Launched at Glasgow International, Soil City is a long term project initiated by Open Jar Collective, to reimagine the city as if soil matters.

“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” Leonardo DaVinci, circa 1500s

Soil City is a space for conversation, participatory research and knowledge exchange. By engaging with the citizens of Glasgow and a wider community of scientists, artists, activists and academics, we hope to gain a better understanding of the relationship between healthy soil and healthy people.  We’re exploring how inequalities within society are reflected in the way land is used or remains ‘vacant’. By reframing soil as a valuable collective resource we aim to play a role in challenging economic, environmental, and health inequalities in Glasgow. We aim to offer explorations of soil culture through the alchemy of composting, growing, foraging, fermenting, brewing and cooking, as hospitality and sharing food together are at the core of Open Jar Collective’s approach, and living soil is what supports our nourishment.

Chapter 1 – Soil City Lab and Field Research
During Glasgow International 2016, we undertook our first period of field research, roving around the city on bikes equipped with a bespoke testing kit to engage people in soil assessments, worm surveys, clay collection, plant identification, mini archaeological digs, and conversations about our relationship to the land.  The information gathered was displayed in the Soil City Laboratory, 3 Osborne Street, Glasgow.  The Lab will also hosted a programme of talks, walks, screenings and workshops.  Field research notes and reflections were published online daily.

Chapter 2 – Ongoing Field Research
Building on this initial period of field research, we held a number of events in 2016 that continued to explore the value of soil in the city and how people relate to the land. We launched our first issue of the Soil City Zine at Not by the Book, 10 years of the Radical Independent Bookfair Project in the Intermedia Gallery, CCA Glasgow.

Chapter 3
We are developing a new programme of Soil City activity which we hope to launch in Spring/Summer 2017.  Watch this space!