Archives for category: Clean & Green

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-4-26-04-pm

As Winter arrives it is the perfect time for us to reflect on our Fall School Clean & Green season! We always have such a blast with our School Clean & Green programs. Schools from all around NYC come to learn about the Gowanus Canal and participate in environmental stewardship activities!

20160916_103658

Our Educator, Diana Gruberg, leading a discussion on combined sewage overflow with Packer Collegiate School.

For those of you that don’t know reducing Combined Sewage Overflow (CSOs) in the Gowanus is at the heart of the GCC mission. In New York City we have what is called a combined sewer system – meaning that all of the pipes combine rainwater and sanitary sewage. Your drain pipes at home, at the office, and on the street all flow into one set of pipes and when too much rain causes back up raw sewage and stormwater will overflow directly into the Gowanus Canal and other points across the city.This overflow is usually triggered by a rainfall of just one inch or less! So, as you can imagine, our sewers overflow a lot. In the Gowanus Canal 377 million gallons of raw sewage is discharged annually due to CSO and 27 billion gallons of sewage flows into the rest of NYC’s water bodies every year.

img_8654

CSO is a very important issue that we think every New Yorker should know about — and — what better way to educate the public than to start with youth! Before students grab their shovels and wheelbarrows, they learn how CSOs pollute water and how taking care of permeable space, like gardens, bioswales and street trees, can soak up stormwater and lessen the burden on the aging sewer system. They learn about the other benefits green space provides, such as canopy, cooling, and habitat for pollinators. Making as much green space as possible is especially important around polluted waterways like the Gowanus Canal. We think that all NYC students can be environmental stewards when they have the knowledge about why it’s important and opportunity to get their hands dirty.

This Fall in our School Clean & Greens around 300 students performed 732 service hours in just a 3-month period! We are very excited this many students contributed to making Gowanus cleaner and greener and look to have even more students come out in the Spring.

“Having the kids outside and in Gowanus was fantastic. I love that they truly got their hands dirty with planting projects, but were also challenged to explore the neighborhood and discover pollution and rehabilitation efforts on their own. It was a great mix.” – Rodeph Sholom School.

 20160916_115228

Students performing Bioswale Maintenance

20160916_121153

A highlight of the season, this high school student put blood, sweat & tears into removing cobble stones that were compacting street tree soil!

  img_20161020_102004749

Students get an up close look at the Gowanus Canal and one of its CSO outfall points indicated by green wet weather discharge signs.

    img_5608img_5638

Hunter College High School put in a lot of work on the 2nd Ave Street End Rain Garden.

During the cold winter months the GCC will pause our programing, regroup for next season and resume scheduling in March 2017! We are already fast at work planning stewardship activities and education plans for next season.

Last, but not least, EXPO Gowanus will take place on May 20, 2017 at Thomas Greene Park in Gowanus. This is an opportunity for students to exhibit their Gowanus-related projects at our annual community event and be public ambassadors for the Gowanus Canal. Watch this video showing students at last year’s event. Registration for EXPO Gowanus will be open soon!

**For more information on our education program, School Clean & Green programs or EXPO Gowanus visit our website or contact our Education Coordinator, Shelby, at Shelby@GowanusCanalConservancy.org**

On May 19 6:30-8PM, our Living Things in an Urban Ecosystem series ended on a high note with Beyond the Honeybee: Exploring Critical Pollinators where we explored the role pollinators play in urban ecosystems and the ways in which individuals and community groups can support their habitats.

Ecologist Howard Ginsberg, Ph.D. from United States Geological Survey first presented a brief survey of native and non-native bee species typically found in NYC.  He found that our city has approximately 50 different species of bumble bees, compared to 100 found in more natural environments which is great news for our urban ecosystem. One fun fact is that bees tend to pollinate on specific seasons because they favor flowers in bloom during that time.  One example is Halictus ligatus, a communal or non-territorial summer bumblebee whose nests are typically found in holes in the ground and their workers are daughters of the queen, unlike honeybees whose workers are typically male.

Summer bee

Halictus ligatus – Summer bee

Our second panelist Tina Harrison, Ph.D. candidate from Rutger’s University Department of Ecology, presented some key ways to support our pollinators here in NYC.

Pesticides used in gardens

Chlorantranilliprole kills less worker bumble bees in a 2013 study

Gardeners and horticulturists should be mindful of the primary chemical used in the pesticide. For example, a study by Larson, Redmond and Potter showed that pesticides containing chlorantraniliprole kills only a small amount of worker bees, especially compared to clothianidin. So be sure to read those labels!

Effects of pesticides on bumble bee populations

Effects of pesticides on bumble bee populations

And finally, biologist Sam Droege, also from USGS, focused his presentation on the challenges of studying bumble bee populations.  He not only highlighted his work on cataloguing bee species (view the beautiful photography here), he spoke on the challenges scientists face when studying bees. One fascinating example was the attempt to study the Bombus bimaculatus, a bee species that, in natural settings, kicks out and takes over nests built by chickadee birds.  After scientists recreated these nests to attract this bee species, they were unable to replicate this occurrence in a controlled setting. Clearly there is more to be studied on attractive bee habitats, which, once successful, would lead to more effective methods of attracting and keeping them within our city.

Megachile-lanata

We then segued into the panel discussion, moderated by landscape architect Hans Hesselein, where we were truly able to unpack the issue of bee colony collapse (which actually does not effect bumblebees), action steps we can take to support their survival, and the potential for future on bee habitats studies .  Listen here for the entire discussion.

We at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy send our heartfelt thanks to our venue sponsor Threes Brewing for generously offering their event space, our panelists, volunteer coordinators and most of all our audience for being part of such a vibrant season.  Stay tuned for the fall schedule!

Join us on our next Clean & Green July 18 11AM-3PM by signing up at volunteer@gowanuscanalconservancy.org where volunteers will participate in the Tree Census and other stewardship activities.

Follow us on Twitter at @GowanusGreen and on Instagram @gowanuscanalconservancy for GCC news, volunteer events and trivia.

The temperature may have been low, but spirits were certainly high! The Conservancy rallied approximately 45 volunteers on Sunday in an effort to support NYC Park’s annual MulchFest event. Mission MulchFest Gowanus was simple: Locate discarded Christmas trees throughout Gowanus as well as neighboring areas and return them to the Salt Lot for chipping. We created five teams, each equipped with transportation and a map of pick-up zones. Trees were collected from Gowanus, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill. We were well on our way to reaching our goal of 500 trees by the early afternoon. Volunteers fueled up on warm apple cider and gingerbread before returning to the field. Our mission was complete by 4PM with a total of 642 trees collected and chipped. We could not have done this without our dedicated volunteers and gracious sponsors. Special thanks to Arborpolitan, Urban Arborists, Forth on Fourth Avenue and GreenSpace on Fourth! Stay Mulchin’.

The tree that got the MulchFest party started.

The tree that got the MulchFest party started.

One of our volunteers in the field.

One of our volunteers in the field.

A carload of trees.

A carload of trees.

Collecting trees by any means necessary.

Collecting trees by any means necessary.

Where the magic happened.

Where the magic happened.

At the September 11 Clean & Green Event, the Rockefeller Foundation employees volunteered for the GCC as part of their Day of Service to the community.  They arrived in the morning at the Salt Lot and after a brief orientation, split up to perform a variety of stewardship activities including composting and garden stewardship.

One group focused on turning over compost piles from bottom to top to help speed up the creation of beautiful nutritious compost.  They also used the sifter to separate larger pieces of wood chips from healthy compost by hand which will be reused for newer compost piles.  This created a wonderful opportunity to share everyones experiences of personal stewardship and how something as simple as composting gives nutrients back to the land.

Turning over compost to increase air circulation and eliminate odors

Turning over compost to increase air circulation

 

Volunteers separating compost from wood chips using the sifter

Volunteers hard at work separating compost from wood chips using the sifter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another set of volunteers focused on garden stewardship by removing trash, weeding and watering the native plants in the bioswales to allow them to flourish for both street beautification and stormwater absorption.  This generated interest in learning about the various ways  local communities are able to actively create vibrant green spaces while reducing the negative effects of water and sewershed on the Canal.

Volunteers picking up trash and uprooting weeds in one of GCCs bioswales

Volunteers removing trash and uprooting weeds in one of GCCs bioswales

One of the volunteers watering native plants

One of the volunteers watering native plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a great day of stewardship the Rockefeller Foundation was treated to a cookout of delicious hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers and refreshments including beer generously provided by our sponsors  Whole Foods Market on 3rd Street and Brooklyn Brewery.  To top off the afternoon they all posed for a group photo, happy and proud to have helped Gowanus become a little greener.  Rockefeller Foundation volunteers, thank you all for your service and hope you all had a wonderful experience!

Group photo to end a great day with the Rockefeller Foundation

Group photo to end a great day with the Rockefeller Foundation

 

CitiBank’s #CitiVolunteers joined us on June 7, 2014 for some garden and tree stewarding! After Executive Director Hans Hesselein led the volunteers on a tour of the Canal from the Whole Foods Market, they arrived at the Salt Lot to be divided into groups by our awesome volunteer coordinators.

While a small group helped sift compost and propagate seeds at the Salt Lot, others headed out into the neighborhood to prune the street trees along Second Avenue. The rest of the volunteers cleaned up, weeded and mulched the garden by the Whole Foods Market on 3rd Street. Being on a main thoroughfare through the neighborhood, the garden picks up its fair share of trash, but the plants are blooming! Cleaning up the garden allowed for three new species to be planted and watered by the CitiBank volunteers.

The day concluded like most Clean & Green days — volunteers were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers provided by Whole Foods Markets and shared a few drinks, especially some beers, courtesy of our sponsor, Brooklyn Brewery.

Thanks for your service, #CitiVolunteers! We hope you had a great time discovering the Gowanus neighborhood on that beautiful Saturday morning.

The day began with a tour of the Canal starting at the Whole Foods Market Promenade.

The day began with a tour of the Canal starting at the Whole Foods Market Promenade.

Propagating plants at the Salt Lot.

Propagating plants at the Salt Lot.

 

The trees along Second Avenue and its side-streets got a lot of love on this hot, sunny day!

The trees along Second Avenue and its side-streets got a lot of love on this hot, sunny day!

3rd Street Garden Crew!

Smile for the camera, 3rd Street Garden Crew!

The Conservancy’s Clean & Green Program is supported by the following sponsors:

140527-CandG-Logo

May 17 marked the installation of our Wildflower Corridor on 9th Street! After a long, humid and wet week in Brooklyn, the sun came out on Saturday accompanied by a light breeze — perfect weather for a volunteer day. Not only were the 24 wildflower planters installed, but volunteers also participated in tree stewardship activities along 8th and 9th Street and Milo’s Garden in Carroll Park.

You can download a plant care guide with names and pictures of the wildflowers used in the corridor here. (PDF, 2.4 MB)

You can also download a map of the wildflower corridor here. (PDF, 241 KB)

Executive Director Hans Hesselein explains the work day to volunteers.

Executive Director Hans Hesselein explains the work day to volunteers.

IMG_6154

IMG_4367

American Legion Post 1636 graciously allowed us to set up our home base next to their building on 193 9th Street. The central location of the post also made for a great place to treat our volunteers to a grilling session after the work day.

Volunteers eat some burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill after a long day of work.

Volunteers eat some burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill after a long day of work.

Installed and watered!

Installed and watered!

Over a hundred volunteers and volunteer coordinators participated not only in the installation, but the design and fabrication of the Wildflower Corridor project since it was first proposed in February. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this project from its conception through its realization.

Special thanks to our organizers:
Andrea Parker, GCC Board
Sarah Snow, GCC Staff
Alexandria Donati, GCC Volunteer Coordinator
Zenobia Meckley, Future Green Studio
Cecil Howell, Future Green Studio
David Seiter, Future Green Studio
Marielle Anzelone, NYC Wildflower Week

We would also like to thank our sponsors for the support and materials they provided and donated:

140509-Sponsors

Restoring the environment in a post-industrial landscape involves finding ways to attract animals and insects to the neighborhood. In other words, real estate for the birds and the bees. While ground for new residential complexes on the Canal, we’ve been busy with smaller residential complexes of our own: Introducing the Wildflower Corridor!

A row of planters.

A row of Wildflower planters.

The Wildflower Corridor project aims to install wildflowers down 9th Street from 2nd Avenue to Prospect Park. May 17 will see the installation of 24 planters between 2nd and 5th Avenue. The plants were adopted by residents and businesses who are volunteering their services to keep the plants alive and healthy.

The Salt Lot has been really busy lately.

The Salt Lot has been really busy lately.

During April’s Clean & Greens on the 12th, 13th and 27th, volunteers put together the 24 wildflower planters with the help of Future Green Studio. Plants and materials were donated by The Home Depot, North Creek Nurseries, Greenbelt Native Plant Center, Quadrozzi Enterprises, Build it Green!NYC, and Scout + Gather.

Assembly line!

Assembly line!

Volunteers install cladding on a planter.

Volunteers install cladding on a planter.

The wildflowers will hang out and grow in our nursery until May 17.

The wildflowers will hang out at the Salt Lot nursery until May 17.

The planters are looking great, and we can’t wait to finally install them in a few weeks. We’ll even be celebrating after the event with a block party on 8th Street! We hope to see everyone there. Save the date – May 17!

If you’re interested in signing up for a Clean & Green event, our schedule for 2014 is posted up on our website.
As always, check our events page for more goings on at the Conservancy!

[Photos by Jason Diaz]

Thanks again to the Wildflower Corridor’s fantastic sponsors for helping us make this project a reality:

140424-Sponsors

 

The Conservancy celebrated this year’s Earth Day (April 22) with National Grid! 40 employee volunteers spent a few hours composting, caring for street trees along 2nd Avenue, and stewarding the guerrilla garden by the new Whole Foods Market on 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue.

Let these photos tell the rest of the story!

The Salt Lot underwent a little decorating to set a stage for the morning's speeches.

The Salt Lot underwent a little decorating to set a stage for the morning’s speeches.

L-R: Conservancy Executive Director Hans Hesselein, D39 Councilmember Brad Lander, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Conservancy Board Chairman Andy Simons, National Grid President Rudy Wynter

L-R: Conservancy Executive Director Hans Hesselein, D39 Councilmember Brad Lander, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Conservancy Board Chairman Andy Simons, National Grid President Rudy Wynter

Clockwise from upper-left: Director Hesselein, President Wynter, Congresswoman Velasquez and Councilmember Lander  delivered opening speeches introducing the Canal, praising the two organizations' 6 year partnership, lauding the volunteers for their service, and emphasizing the push for more environmental education.

Clockwise from upper-left: Director Hesselein, President Wynter, Congresswoman Velasquez and Councilmember Lander delivered opening speeches introducing the Canal, praising the two organizations’ 6 year partnership, lauding the volunteers for their service, and emphasizing the push for increaesd environmental education.

National Grid employee volunteers were briefed on safety before breaking out into groups.

National Grid employee volunteers were briefed on safety before breaking out into groups.

Director of Education Programs Christine Petro assists a volunteer by the soil and compost sifting area.

Director of Education Programs Christine Petro assists a volunteer by the soil and compost sifting area.

Mr. Wynter lending a hand in turning the compost windrow.

Mr. Wynter lending a hand in turning the compost windrow.

Shoveling compost for the nursery and windrow.

Gathering compost to be distributed to tree beds and the 3rd Street Garden.

Sifting out fine soil and compost for use in our wildflower planters!

Sifting out fine soil and compost for use in our wildflower planters!

14007871084_9e9d92eb68_b

Adding compost to tree beds to treat the soil and cultivate tree growth for the new spring season.

Adding compost to tree beds to treat the soil and cultivate tree growth for the new spring season.

Smile, everyone!

Smile, everyone!

Photos by Jason Diaz.

Want to see pictures from this event and more? Check out our Flickr, follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook!

Worms live in soil. What else do they do? As twenty-three fourth grade students learned on April 9, they poop out compost!

Students from the Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration (PS636) didn’t just learn about worm poop on this windy spring day. They played with it! After Director of Education Programs Christine Petro gave a brief history of the Gowanus Canal, the energetic 9-year-olds incorporated food scraps into a compost windrow, sifted compost, and cared for nursery plants. In-between all of the work was playtime with the hundreds of worms buried under our compost piles.

“I found a worm!” one student shouted. As two classmates leaned over to look, two others passed by with a wheelbarrow of fresh mulch to be delivered to the nursery. After a few seconds, the worm wrangler chucked his new friend into a compost pile and continued to build the compost windrow.

Worms weren’t just something to ogle at for these energetic kids. “Worms poop out compost,” a student recanted while shoveling mulch. “It’s good for the plants.” Worms, compost and the outdoors aren’t just the stuff of after-school playground games. As the Young Scholars experienced, the foundations of environmental science can be taken from something as simple as a natural love for things that live in the dirt.

Program Manager Natasia Sidarta teaches a lesson on composting.

Program Manager Natasia Sidarta gives a lesson on composting and windrow turning. Photo provided by One To World

Collecting mulch to plant in the nursery.

Collecting mulch to plant in the nursery. Photo provided by One To World

Posing in front of the sifting table!

Posing in front of the sifting table!

To find out more about the program that brought PS636 and the Conservancy together, please visit One To World’s website.

For more information on School Clean & Greens and the Conservancy’s education programs, check out our Education page.

 

 

New York City’s 2014 began with a great snowstorm. The Conservancy’s 2014, however, began under a warm winter sun that welcomed volunteers, members and staff back to the Salt Lot for the first time since December 22’s Composting Gowanus event. The warmth presided over what became a productive day of service centered around the collection and mulching of discarded Christmas trees around the watershed – Mulchfest!

With the assistance of our sponsors Arborpolitan and Urban Arborists, volunteers collected 460 trees and turned it into mulch. Meanwhile, our younger volunteers worked to sift .5 cubic yards of compost, while our tree stewards pruned 4 street trees and returned 100 lbs of pruned material back to the Salt Lot.

After the majority of our 26 volunteers assisted in turning our November and December windrows, the newly harvested mulch was spread around the compost area and on top of our windrows. Volunteers left the Salt Lot not with the all-too familiar smell of compost, but with the fresh piney smell of Christmas morning in their noses.

On this sunny day, hundreds of discarded trees helped breathe back life into the Salt Lot after the snowstorm that delayed Mulchfest for one week. January 12 was the perfect day  to beautify the Salt Lot just before the chilling polar vortex and its snowstorms descended upon Gowanus for the rest of the month.

Arborpolitan unloads the trees they collected.

Volunteer Committee Compost Co-Chair John Craver and Director of Education Programs Christine Petro biked around the neighborhood collecting trees!

John diligently binding the trees together so they don’t roll off the wagons.

Volunteers loaded up collected trees onto Urban Arborists’ truck…

…where they were ferried to the far end of the Salt Lot to be turned into mulch.

The fresh mulch was brought back to the main work area, where it was spread over the deep, muddy puddles formed after the snowstorm that kicked off the year.

Busy at work!

Volunteer Markley Boyer walks across the freshly placed green mulch.

Interested in volunteering at the Salt Lot before Clean & Green kicks off in March? E-mail volunteer@gowanuscanalconservancy.org and ask for opportunities such as weekly windrow turns!