MADISON, Wis. -

An urban farming organization is raising awareness about contaminated soil in Milwaukee.

Growing Power, a national nonprofit in Milwaukee that promotes sustainable farming methods, said a major challenge residents face in growing food is the poor quality of city soil.

Chief Executive Officer Will Allen said most soil in urban areas contains arsenic and other contaminants. His organization focuses on creating compost as an alternative.

Allen said Growing Power collects grinds from coffeehouses, spent grains from breweries and spoiled produce from wholesalers. The waste produces about 1 million pounds of compost each year that is used by the organization for planting.

Allen spoke Wednesday at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has been working with the university to create an institute devoted to urban farming and nutrition.