Huertos urbanos: ¿si o no?
La Mirada de Jorge Ruiz Morales

Huertos urbanos: ¿si o no?

El conocimiento de la historia de esos terrenos y el análisis del suelo debería ser una norma obligatoria previa a su uso como huerta por los ciudadanos
7 abril, 2019
Jorge Ruiz Morales
  • Ciencia

La Mirada deJorge Ruiz Morales

Huertos urbanos: ¿si o no?

Jorge Ruiz Morales
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Desde hace unos años se está extendiendo la idea de realizar huertos urbanos. En muchos casos, los movimientos sociales -con cierta colaboración por parte de algunos ayuntamientos-, han considerado conveniente impulsar la realización de esta actividad. Cada uno le da una funcionalidad distinta o confluyente: acercar la agricultura a los mas jóvenes, dar quehacer a los mayores, procura de alimentación para un grupo de personas, socializar las relaciones comunales.

Las experiencias de huertos urbanos son bastante antiguas, sobre todo en EE.UU., Inglaterra o Alemania. Su introducción en España es más reciente, que se ha acrecentado a partir de la crisis de 2008.

Un runrún soterrado ha eclosionado. Un estudio realizado por el CSIC, encabezado por el investigador Rafael López, del Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología, de Sevilla, ha encontrado concentraciones de plomo,  que pueden suponer un riesgo para la salud, en el mayor huerto urbano de España; el Parque de Miraflores en Sevilla. El estudio ha sido publicado en la revista’ Biological Agriculture & amp; Horticulture’ (Heavy metal pollution in soils and urban-grown organic vegetables in the province of Sevilla, Spain), el pasado 28 de marzo. Este huerto se instaló en los años 80 sobre una gran escombrera de 90 hectáreas.

Los resultados indican que el suelo, de distintas parcelas del huerto, tenían una concentración muy importante de plomo, de orden de 292 mg/kg de tierra. En alguna de ellas se ha llegado a medir 400 mg/kg. Hay que señalar que la Junta de Andalucía, estableció mediante decreto un máximo de 275 mg/kg.

La legislación europea establece para las habas, por ejemplo, un nivel promedio de 0,10 mg/kg; sin embargo, en las recogidas en este huerto se han medido valores medios de 0,13 mg/kg, con picos de 0,50 mg/kg.

El estudio apunta a que los altos niveles de plomo encontrado se debían, posiblemente, a las pinturas realizadas en base al plomo y que se encuentran en los escombros que había en la zona.

Huerto urbano en Leganés, al lado de unas obras de construcción.
Huerto urbano en Leganés, al lado de unas obras de construcción.

El crecimiento de nuestras ciudades se ha ido realizando sobre los terrenos de los polígonos industriales y la demolición de los edificios. Hace cuarenta años los tratamientos de los escombros no eran especialmente eficaces.

Muchos expertos en medio ambiente alertan sobre los riesgos de la agricultura urbana. Y no solo por los niveles de plomo ya citados. Las plantas pueden absorber otro tipo de metales pesados como el zinc, cadmio o manganeso. La absorción de esos metales por parte de la planta depende mucho del pH del suelo. Por encima de un valor aproximado de 6.5, los contaminantes permanecen insolubles en el agua del suelo y la planta no los puede absorber. Pero, por debajo, la absorción se produce y, aparte del peligro intrínseco si se consumen esas hortalizas, su crecimiento se ve afectado por su presencia.

La Junta de Andalucía en su “Guía para la creación de huertos sociales ecológicos”, desaconseja su instalación en zonas de alta contaminación atmosférica. Así mismo, recomienda conocer la historia del suelo y su entorno y aconseja realizar un estudio previo del suelo, realizado por un laboratorio acreditado. Desaconseja, recomienda, aconseja, palabras que dejan en el aire la salud de las personas que, además, deben soportar el coste del “consejo”.

Huerto en Barcelona, al lado del río Besós y de una autopista. (Eleonora Blanco & Pau Faus)
Huerto en Barcelona, al lado del río Besós y de una autopista. (Eleonora Blanco & Pau Faus)

La UE tiene un boletín de alertas, Science for Environmental Policy , ligado al medio ambiente. Ya en 2012 resaltó el artículo más buscado de todos los publicados ese año. Su título “¿Es saludable la horticultura desarrollada en áreas de tráfico intenso?”.

En todas las grandes ciudades, Madrid entre ellas, ha existido un amplio movimiento en favor de estos huertos urbanos. Pero no olvidemos el crecimiento de los barrios periféricos sobre suelos industriales. Se puede afirmar sin riesgo de error, que la mayoría de estos huertos no poseen un análisis del suelo donde se ubican.

Los suelos urbanos sin control pueden albergar numerosos contaminantes como productos derivados del petróleo, metales pesados, pesticidas y productos químicos industriales especialmente en terrenos que se encuentran cercanos a áreas industriales, carreteras muy transitadas y vertederos de basura.

Según Andrés Rodríguez, doctor en Ecosistemas Terrestres por la Universidad de Vigo y experto en la materia, en declaraciones a EFEverde el pasado año, afirmaba: “…[…] Dichos huertos representan un riesgo potencial para la salud, por la posibilidad de bioacumular en el suelo elementos y compuestos potencialmente tóxicos que pueden ser ingeridos por los consumidores”.

Un huerto urbano encajonado entre vías de tren en desuso.
Un huerto urbano encajonado entre vías de tren en desuso.

Entonces, qué respuesta le damos a la pregunta inicial de Huertos urbanos ¿sí o no? Pues depende.

Los partidarios de los beneficios de esta agricultura urbana, destacan entre otros, la reducción de las cadenas de suministro, mitigación de la isla de calor, los beneficios económicos, reforzamiento de los lazos sociales de las personas o comunidad implicada, educación medioambiental. Mejorar la calidad de vida del entorno y especialmente de las personas más vulnerables, generar conciencia de barrio o la formación de jóvenes en tareas educativas o sociales.

En los últimos años se ha constatado en España un espectacular crecimiento experimentado por la horticultura urbana en todas las autonomías, especialmente en Andalucía, Cataluña, Madrid y Comunidad Valenciana, y son las ciudades de Barcelona y Madrid, las que cuentan con un mayor número de zonas.

Un ejemplo de esta gran demanda es el sorteo, el pasado año, de 123 huertos urbanos ubicados en una parcela municipal del municipio de Alcobendas (Madrid), para los que se registraron más de 800 solicitudes.

Parece claro que hay un alto número de beneficios sociales de estos huertos urbanos (lo de “ecológicos” lo dejamos para otro momento). Sin embargo, debemos atender las recomendaciones de los científicos, si queremos preservar la salud de la ciudadanía.

Para Andrés Rodriguez, en el caso de grandes urbes y con problemas de contaminación atmosférica recurrente como pasa en Madrid, “los huertos urbanos no son la mejor opción y antes de realizar uno hay que analizar las características específicas de cada huerta y los tipos de cultivo”.

Y aquí es donde deberían intervenir los ayuntamientos. Deberían ser ellos los que realizaran los estudios pertinentes, en muchos casos bastante caros, antes de proceder a la concesión de los terrenos. El conocimiento de la historia de esos terrenos y el análisis del suelo debería ser una norma obligatoria previa a su uso como huerta por los ciudadanos.


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