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’.
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 Conservancy’s Clean & Green Program is supported by the following sponsors:
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)
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
[Photos by Jason Diaz]
Thanks again to the Wildflower Corridor’s fantastic sponsors for helping us make this project a reality:
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!
Photos by Jason Diaz.
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.
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.
Interested in volunteering at the Salt Lot before Clean & Green kicks off in March? E-mail email@example.com and ask for opportunities such as weekly windrow turns!
Over 60 volunteers joined the Conservancy during our Clean & Green on November 16. Among the volunteers that joined us on this unexpectedly bright and sunny day were groups from Con-Edison, St. John’s University, and a group of Georgia Tech alumni from the New York/New Jersey area. During this year’s final Clean & Green, volunteers assisted in garden stewardship, street tree stewardship, and windrow turning.
The bulk of our volunteers participated in assisting with the stewardship of our gardens on 2nd Ave., Huntington Street, 3rd Ave., and Degraw East. A total of over 300 seeds were propagated into 1-gallon containers for the Salt Lot nursery, and 20 perennials and shrubs were installed in the 2nd Ave. Gardens. A total of nearly 4,000 square feet of green space was stewarded by our volunteers!
Street Tree Stewardship
Bob Lesko led a small team of volunteers to cut and prune 35 trees on 9th Street as part of our Street Tree Stewardship program.
It is notable that under the guidance of Bob, over 100 street trees were managed over the course of the month of November! Thank you, Bob!
Finally, a portion of the volunteers helped to turn the September windrow into a curing pile, where it will rest in the back of the lot for two weeks. Moving the September windrow cleared space for the November windrow to be built the next day.
In terms of composting, 350 lbs of organic materials were collected, 700 lbs of compost was distributed, and 250 lbs of trash were collected.
At the end of the day, all volunteers were treated to some great grilled burgers and hot dogs, courtesy of our friends at Whole Foods. November’s Clean & Green ended up being an extremely productive way to end the year! From the bottom of our hearts, we would like thank our volunteers for their extraordinary service this day. To those seeking further volunteer opportunities this year, there’s one more Composting event on December 22nd – e-mail us for more details and availability. But for those that won’t be able to make it, whether you’ve become interested through this post or just wish to come back – we hope to see you in March at our first Clean & Green in 2014!
On September 21, 2013, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy invited community members and volunteers to help make a difference within the neighborhood through a public art project. The interpretive signage project, which took place on Smith Street around the corner from the Huntington Street Mural, is intended to illuminate the rich history of a significant historic property within the Carroll Gardens neighborhood, and the Gowanus Canal Watershed. The signage speaks to Public Place, which is the former home of the Citizens Manufactured Gas Plant that stopped operating over fifty years ago. The site is undergoing environmental remediation at this time.
The interpretive signage project was sponsored by National Grid, and was designed and installed by Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s volunteers. The GCC also partnered with NY State Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and development for this project, which is intended to provide the community with information about significant environmental actions taking place in the area, and the historical evolution of a major landmark within the neighborhood. By revealing hidden histories, our organization, hopes to enrich the community’s appreciation for the ground beneath their feet, as well as the industries that have preceded them.
Volunteer artists, Gena Wirth, Andrea Parker, Julia Price, and Alexandria Donati worked together to design the interpretive signage, which was divided into 18 panels. The size of the interpretive signage project, in its entirety, is an approximated five feet wide by one-hundred and forty feet long. GCC volunteers helped install the interpretive signage at the public place site along the construction fence bordering Smith Street.
Gena Wirth created the “What Used To Be Here?” section of the interpretive signage. This section informs the members of the community about the history of the canal before industrialization. “What Used To Be Here?” gives information about the Dutch settlements, the Canarsee Native Americans, species of grass that grew within and around the canal, as well as the history of ecological species and the evolution of industrial growth throughout the area.
Andrea Parker created the “What Was Made Here?” portion of the interpretive signage project, which informs the community about the industrial processes that formally occurred at Public Place when it closed the Citizens Manufactured Gas Plant.”What Was Made Here?” also explains coal’s origins, extraction, and transportation, illuminating the complex relationship between Brooklyn and Coal Country.
Julia Price worked on the creation of “What’s Happening Here?”, which informs community members about the proposed site cleanup and remediation technologies that are likely to be employed while cleaning up and restoring the Public Place site.
Alexandria Donati worked on creating the “GCC Vision: What’s Possible?” portion of the interpretive signage project, which discusses the current activities of the GCC and Volunteer program. This section of the interpretive signage project explains project ideas and their effects on the canal post-superfund. These projects include public art installations, historic walking tours, and many community events. This part of the project also explains ecological restoration ideas like: floating gardens, which will provide habitats for fish and crustaceans, filter water and put oxygen back into the canal, as well as draw attention to issues of the urban pollution and the poor water quality of the canal. Other projects include: salt marshes that will support wildlife functions, and help to filter the water while putting oxygen back into the system; shellfish gardens that will create artificial reefs that project the shoreline, filter water, and when large enough can provide juveniles (spat) to other waterways in need. Another innovative ecological restoration idea is green streets, which are gardens or swales that soak up rain water and filter toxins through the soil and the plants that live in them.
Thank you to our sponsors and partners:
Alex Lola, a prospective Eagle Scout, is collaborating with the Conservancy to construct a greenhouse in the Salt Lot. The project aims to expand the Conservancy’s nursery and provide a home for plants during the upcoming winter months. The planning process developed throughout Spring 2013. The construction phase began in September, and the first building day was on October 19. The build will continue through the upcoming weeks.
The proposal for the greenhouse initially included four different ideas for the frame, or shape, the structure would take. The decision on the right frame to use were based on conditions such as material cost, interior space, structural stability, and weight load for the greenhouse’s covering. Alex settled on a wooden ‘A-Frame’ structure, a sturdy build designed to bear lightweight to medium-heavy coverings such as the corrugated plastic that will be used to enclose Alex’s greenhouse on all sides.
The design’s blueprint states that the final structure will be 12 feet in both width and height, and 30 feet in length. It will be composed of five, triangular arches nailed to two 10 foot boards raised 24 inches off the ground. Each triangular arch is supported by cross pieces that give the ‘A-Frame’ its name. These arches are supported by criss-crossing boards. The following pictures should help to illustrate both the structure and the community effort being put into this project:
This community project is shaping up to be a fantastic addition to the Salt Lot!
This project is sponsored by: