June 19th, 2011
Standing at the end of 2nd Avenue, you may be able to see what appear to be tires, concrete blockss and sticks floating in the Canal; but wait, they have plants in them!
The idea behind this art and science experiment is to explore the possible beneficial applications of floating gardens to provide wildlife habitat, filtration and oxygenation of Canal waters. Most importantly, however, this project will draw attention to environmental issues related to water quality in the Canal. This project was an initiative driven by volunteers, proactive neighbors and friends of the Canal. The gardens were made by compiling used-tires, casting special concrete planters and weaving tree branches into floating pods. We hope that these small islands will be able to help filter the nutrient-heavy, sewage infused Canal water. While we do not expect this small garden initiative to have a significant impact on the overall water quality, we hope this experiment will help to evaluate the feasibility of a larger, more effective floating garden project.
These stick gardens, launched by hand, constitute an experiment in dispersing native plants and seeds into the compromised and toxic environment of the Canal via floating islands. The goal of this project is to establish robust germs of functioning ecologies along the shorelines to promote healthy habitats, capable of sustaining life.
The Floating Gardens have been designed to address a variety of habitat types and environmental constraints such as vegetative gardens with salt-tolerant plants, shellfish cages and colonization substrates, fish habitat, bird perch and nesting platforms, trash collecting skimmers and micro algae pads. We are currently exploring several of the ideas described above, we hope that aquatic plants will prove useful at absorbing nutrients in the Canal; their dangling roots should also provide ideal places for aquatic invertebrates and small fish to hide and forage.
Native mussels are ideal targets for re-population to help filter the Canal’s water and provide additional habitat for other organisms. They are found to be colonizing bulkheads along Canal edges.
This Clean & Green proved again to volunteers and organizers alike that community activism can be fun and rewarding.
From the designers of this project to all the volunteers, thank you for making this exciting venture possible. Our partners in this project include the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, the Gowanus Dredgers and the Brooklyn New School. Sponsors include the Film Biz Prop Shop, Pinelands Nursery, Greenbelt Native Plant Center and Ozzie’s Coffee. Thank you for the continued support