Pitch in with these fun projects:
- Compost sifting
- Planting flowers and herbs
- Compost tumbler assembly
Hope to see you there!!
Pitch in with these fun projects:
Hope to see you there!!
Nature at work on its own timetable: the cicadas are coming! Every seventeen years, billions of Brood II cicadas emerge from underground, where they have been feasting on tree root xylem fluids in preparation for their spring Dionysus festival of molting, mating, and noise-making. For the next four to six weeks, prepare for lots of bugs and a constant 7kHz mating buzzzzzz.
These harmless cicadas who are about to swarm the East Coast have been underground since 1996–the same year that brought us $1.22 gas prices, the divorce of Prince Charles and Lady Di, the Atlanta Summer Olympics, and the Spice Girls first number one hit “Wannabe.”
Why now? The cicada nymphs only emerge from the ground when the soil is 64 degrees or warmer, eight inches down. New York Public Radio has created a map showing ground warmth to see where the cicadas will appear. Look at that dark orange dot right over New York City…!
If you see cicadas in your neighborhood, you can report them to the Magicicada Mapping Project, a National Geographic supported initiative. According to their website, cicadas have been spotted from Pennsylvania to Georgia. If you aren’t sure if the black-bodied, red-eyed large bugs suddenly swarming your apartment are cicadas or not, here is a (terrifying) cicada gif to compare to:
What to do about the impending swarm? If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em! According to the Cicada Invasion blog, cicadas are a rich source of protein with about the same amount per pound as red meat. Cicadas are also said to be full of vitamins and minerals, low in fat, and they have zero carbs. Jenna Jadin wrote a cicada cookbook in 2004 that features recipes for Soft-Shelled Cicadas, Cicada Rhubarb Pie, and El Chirper Tacos, among many others.
As Jadin explained to Radiolab, “Cicadas are really, really easy to catch. They just sit there. They don’t have any defensive mechanisms.” The best time to harvest cicadas for cooking is when they first appear, as that’s when they’re the most succulent. “They’re a grub basically. They haven’t formed their exoskeleton yet. They haven’t hardened. Wings haven’t unfurled,” said Jadin.
If you want to try cooking some cicadas at home, first boil them for four to five minutes to remove soil particles that can be harmful. Then you can freeze them, roast them, which gives a nutty flavor,or start on any of the dozens of recipes popping up all over the internet. If you have shellfish allergies, be cautious because cicada exoskeletons have the same materials as many shellfish.
596 Acres presents Bushwick Open Studios Party at the Silent Barn to celebrate the arrival of summer with DJ James Mulry! Admission $10–50 (pay what you wish).
We provide snacks and tunes! You can also enjoy the rest of the Silent Barn — go art supply shopping, get a haircut, look at art…more details here.
Successfully addressing the challenge of a changing climate is critical for maintaining conditions that are ripe for overall economic sustainability, political stability, and growth. Asia is the most disaster prone region in the world, a fact that places already strained institutions under additional pressure. Simultaneously, the U.S. faces the prospect of increasingly violent natural disasters, and in regions where such disasters were previously uncommon. What lessons can Asia provide for the U.S., and what lessons can the U.S. provide for Asia in addressing climate-related issues? Please join a distinguished panel of experts to discuss climate resiliency, particularly as it links to water resources, desertification, increasing mobility, displacement, and ultimately security.
John Briscoe is Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Environmental Engineering and Environmental Health at Harvard University, where he directs the Harvard Water Security Initiative.
Amanda Ikert is the C40 Initiative Director on Climate Change Adaptation. She was previously the C40 City Director in Jakarta.
Michael Werz is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where his work as member of the National Security Team focuses on the nexus of climate change, migration, and security and emerging democracies, especially Turkey, Mexico, and Brazil. He has been a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund where his work focused on transatlantic foreign policy and the European Union.
Andrew Revkin (moderator) is the Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University’s Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, and writes the award-winning Dot Earth blog for the opinion section of The New York Times.
Can’t make it to this program? Tune in to AsiaSociety.org/Live at 6:30pm E.T. for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to email@example.com.
More than 1,000 volunteers are expected to join 75 volunteer-led shoreline cleanups as part of the second annual Riverkeeper Sweep, our annual day of service for the Hudson River, on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Please find a cleanup site in the list below and click the link to register. Those who register and participate are eligible for raffle prizes and a freebie at one of eight participating breweries and a nightclub.
Questions? Email Dana Gulley and Dan Shapley at Sweep@riverkeeper.org, or call 914–478-4501 x226.
New York City-Bronx
Riverdale Riverfront Promenade
College of Mount Saint Vincent
New York City-Manhattan
Inwood’s North Cove, Harlem River (Morning)
Inwood’s North Cove, Harlem River (Afternoon)
East River Park
Solar One Stewardship Day (Stuyvesant Cove)
Riverside Park near 100th Street
Harlem River Park
Riverside Park from 59th-70th Streets (registration closed)
Little Red Lighthouse /Hudson River Greenway under the GW Bridge (registration closed)
Hudson River Park (registration closed)
New York City-Queens
Jennifer’s Annual Flushing Bay Cleanup
Queensbridge City Park (registration closed)
For a list of cleanup sites in New Jersey and the Hudson Valley click here.
Awesome Incentives and fun places to socialize at afterwords!
*Or nightclub! This year, to thank you for your service, eight breweries and a nightclub have agreed to offer Sweep volunteers a freebie and a place to gather after you complete your project:
These prizes will be raffled to registered volunteers and/or Sweep leaders who participate on the day of the Sweep, Saturday, May 11, 2013:
The North Brooklyn Boat Club has released a new map “Get to Know North Brooklyn Waters” just in time for the warm weather kayaking season. The map includes a currents chart and points of interest along the East River and Brooklyn waterways. According to their website, “The currents chart indicates the times of slack water each day, or the point at which the East River shifts direction between the incoming flood and outgoing ebb tides that occur twice a day.” Check out their beautiful map here and get ready to hit the currents.
NYC Wildflower Week presents a full week of free events to showcase the 53,000 acres of open space and 778 native plants in NYC’s 5 boroughs. The goal of the week is simple: to encourage New Yorkers to get to know the nature in their own back yard and to inspire them to protect this natural heritage for future generations. In 2012 we are expanding on this model by launching National Urban Biodiversity Week with partners in cities across the country. Check out Nature Block Party to learn more!
There are few places in America where you can you lose yourself in a shaded forest teeming with hundreds of diverse species, take a twenty-minute break to enjoy chicharos and empanadas at a Mexican bodega, and then return to the wilderness to finish your hike. That is exactly what we did on a Thursday afternoon last fall with urban ecologist Mariellé Anzelone.
Mariellé walked us through Inwood Hill Park at the northern tip of Manhattan. Along the way we touched white wood aster, witch-hazel, and shade-tolerant species of goldenrod as she identified the plants. Inwood Hill Park is decidedly urban – overhead, planes momentarily drowned out Mariellé’s explanation of earthworms’ negative impact on forest soils and the sound of fall leaves crunching underfoot, while trusses of the Henry Hudson Bridge just became visible through the shedding branches of oak trees. However, after hiking ten minutes into the woods, it really felt like a departure from the city. This is a feeling that Mariellé is attempting to bring to a wider population of New Yorkers, a feeling she hopes will encourage people to rethink the way we aim to ‘green’ NYC.
What exactly does conservation mean in an urban environment like New York City’s?
People imagine that urban ecology is starting with a clean slate. They think nature must be “designed in” because no preexisting part of a city’s landscape still exists. That’s not true; one-eighth of New York City is comprised of natural areas. The issue is that nature is complex — the definition of “natural” and the methods for measuring it are less than explicit. It’s much easier to protect things in situ than it is to restore or create natural spaces from scratch.
Money is abundant for restoration and intervention projects, for bringing landscaping into urban sites. There are great “before and after” pictures. People love the High Line, and I do as well. It’s nature in the city. But, it’s a gussied-up nature for people to imbibe and digest. It takes people’s attention away from the natural spaces. When a landscape is designed, it is always dumbed down and simplified nature — you get nowhere near the complexity of a natural system in a built park. It’s completely different from a genetic standpoint.
To many people, nature in NYC is usually about building more parks. For you, what is the difference between building more parks and protecting existing natural spaces?
It may not make a difference from an “admiration standpoint,” but you don’t see this richness of flora in contrived landscapes. I’m really passionate about plant conservation and I want to know what we’re losing and what’s rare. To me, that’s informing management: How we are failing these plants and how can we redress that?
Seeing certain plants also speaks to something. For example, seeing that low bush blueberry earlier told me that the soil is low pH and mostly undisturbed. There are mycorrhizae that grow with blueberry, which is this intimate fungal relationship that they have along their roots and it helps them to uptake more nutrients from the soil.
And that level of complexity is what’s lacking in a manicured park or green space?
Yes. A long-term, sustained, manicured landscape relies on constant human input. Soils are so complex. When you see a place being developed and you see all that native topsoil that has evolved here over 20,000 years being removed… it’s heartbreaking, if only to me.
Other people may be satisfied walking through spaces like the High Line. The High Line is wonderful, but to not have sort of unknown places like Inwood Hill Park where we can discover and explore would be really unfortunate.
Let’s say we lose these places that have been relatively untouched, we lose the complexity found in these places. What’s the impact?
Remember the Red Admiral butterfly that we saw while we were walking around? It’s a migratory species, and pulses of them flock through here. The same with a lot of bird species.
Large natural spaces provide many different levels of habitat for a variety of species. Poison ivy, for example, is one of the first plants to turn bright red in the fall — the thought is that these plants have really valuable fruit, and they want to advertise their fruit to the birds that are passing en masse.
So that they will eat the berries and spread the seeds?
Exactly, and since birds can’t see the dark blue of the berries, but they can see red, it’s a way to advertise that there is something of interest down here. So these high-fat berries fortify the birds for their migratory flight, and since they disperse the berry seeds by eating them, the plants also win. Who designs for that? When you lose spaces like this, you just lose all of that.
What do you do as an urban ecologist in New York City?
My work varies depending on which projects I’m engaged in, and the time of year. I teach a class called “Sustainable Gardening with Natives” at the New School. I’ve been writing op-eds for the New York Times. I founded NYC Wildflower Week, which I organize every year. I also spent many years working as a plant ecologist for the New York City Parks Department–most of my work there was in conservation.
Is the battle for protecting biodiversity more of a battle for preservation than it is for smarter design in green spaces?
We can do both simultaneously, and they feed into each other. But, while there’s not a lot of discussion around preservation, there is a lot of talk about design. Design is sexy, and architects are really excited and ready to jump on the bandwagon for designing green spaces. But the most basic level is saving the huge tracts of natural land that we have. PlaNYC, which is a wonderful document, ironically talks about biodiversity and about planting trees, but at the same time it is talking about building huge destination parks in all the boroughs.
Like Freshkills Park on Staten Island?
Freshkills is one of them, but there are places like Ocean Breeze, also in Staten Island, and Ridgewood Reservoir on the Queens/Brooklyn border. There are significant natural areas there already that they want to pave over and make into recreational park facilities. To me, there is a sense of irony there. They are working really hard to plant a million trees, which is a wonderful goal, but why aren’t we preserving what we have?
What has to happen to change the way we look at green space so that PlaNYC is talking about conservation, biodiversity, and contiguous natural spaces instead of just recreational parks or street trees?
Writing my piece on the Torrey mountain mint for the New York Times was so utterly devastating for me, and after it was published I got a ton of people emailing me saying, “Your article made me cry,” and I thought “…good.” It’s not to be mean, it’s that I want people to feel that devastation so that maybe down the road they want to be vested in a local landscape near them, too. In any case, at that point I realized I can’t preserve the things I love in a vacuum.
I need to share my love for these things with other people who are going to help me fight the fight. I started giving talks at nature centers around the city on plants–and it would always be about rare plants — rare plants of Marine Park, rare plants of Pelham Bay Park, etc, because no one cares about a plant unless it’s rare or a wildflower. It’s sneaky but this is how you get people to care.
Once I left the Parks Department I started something called NYC Wildflower Week, which, quite honestly, is meant to build a constituency for these natural areas. I have no hidden agenda — I want an army of plant people like me, so that next time someone wants to develop a salt marsh, there are 100 people holding signs that say “LEAVE MY SPARTINA ALONE” and “SALT MARSH GRASS FOR EVERYONE.” That would be like a dream.
I want people to come with me — it’s lonely out there by myself. I try to show people places that have these wonderful plants and make them love them. And it’s a basic education, but my hope is that over time it gets people to care to the point where they are also vested in this future, and speaking for the trees.
Now, if people are speaking for the trees it’s for street trees. If I hear one more person talk about street trees as an urban forest, I’m going to lose my mind. I mean, street trees are great, but if that’s an urban forest then what is Inwood Hill Park?
Something that advocates in all walks of environmentalism face is that the general public becomes fixated on, or interested in, some element of the movement and it takes all of their attention from what might be more significant. Is there a solution?
It’s about making informed choices. For example, the eastern ridge of Inwood Hill is pretty ecologically intact but the western ridge has a history of development, so it has a lot more invasives and exotics. If you’re going to put bike paths through Inwood Hill Park, that’s the place to do it.
Bikers may not know the difference between an invasive like mugwort and a native aster, so put them through areas that are already degraded. But choices like that take time and sensitivity, and these choices often come down to ecological sense or political expediency.
For a lot of people, having a place to go mountain biking in nature is part of having a livable city. What makes a city livable to you?
Oh, boy… Well, I love the idea being able to walk places; I walk around a lot with my kids. We live really close to Prospect Park, and we love that. To me, Prospect Park is not the place that I’m going to go and get really excited, or weepy, about plants that I see. But it’s good enough and it’s good enough for my kids. There’s a playground, they can, you know, get their ya-yas out. And having that kind of blend of recreation and nature is really good. Honestly, that is going to satisfy most people in terms of being out in nature. The question then is why do we need to be delving into natural areas for mountain bike trails?
What do you say to people who agree with PlaNYC that we should be building parks for people to play in, even if it means paving over a more natural space to make room?
Why can’t we have destination around nature instead of tennis courts or other recreational facilities? There is a lack of vision and lack of understanding about what these existing spaces are doing for us. That understanding isn’t represented when decisions are being made, and I think that is huge problem. The last time I saw the proposal for Ocean Breeze Park, they knew that there are at least twelve, state-listed, rare plant species growing wild there that haven’t been taken into account. That’s cause for concern.
At City Atlas, we’re also passionate about the issues you are fighting for, but we’re not ecologists — we aren’t trained in the details of species and their habitats. What can people like us do?
Doing this kind of thing–talking to ecologists–is really important in getting that message out. Another thing is bringing people who make decisions, who design spaces, and work in green building together with people who know about ecology.
Designers and architects do have a lot of input on how these spaces ultimately end up.
They do, and ecologists really don’t.
This might get me in trouble, but I’ve met with a lot of designers and mostly I’ve found them to be really confident in their lack of deep knowledge. They say, “Oh, we don’t need to work with ecologists because we have in– house expertise.” And I’m thinking: On local native flora? I promise that you don’t. It’s just a fact — I mean, how do you define nativity? And how do you understand what’s rare and what isn’t?
Designers have so much power and there’s a lot of patting on your own back, as in, “Wasn’t I brilliant to think of adding native grasses to the greenroof instead of sedum?” Kudos for trying to think outside the box, but there’s this really expansive conversation going on in the ecology world and you’re not hearing it.
There could be a really rich dialogue between those two worlds. How do you make these people listen to someone who has this knowledge? That’s why I keep circling back to policy, which I think is so important. I mean, I can’t make these people do it, but I’m like, “by God, someone’s got to.”
As a botanist and urban conservation biologist, Mariellé Anzelone preserves and restores the floristic diversity of the five boroughs. Her current research includes the NYC Native Plant Conservation Initiative in partnership with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation; she also lectures extensively in the NYC-metro area. Her garden and landscape design work is inspired by the beauty of regional plant communities.
She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, including writing a botanical op-art piece on the extinct flora of NYC, “When New York City Bloomed,” and a 14-week series, Autumn Unfolds, reporting on the changes in a forest in upper Manhattan. Anzelone is the executive director of NYC Wildflower Week, which will hold over 30 events across all of the five boroughs, from May 11 – 19, 2013.
Photographs by Maureen Drennan
Inset photo, top: blue stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
Inset photo, bottom: red maple (Acer rubrum)
The Battery Urban Farm, a project of the Battery Conservancy, sprang up in the spring of 2011. It is the largest educational farm in Manhattan. I recently sat down for an interview with Lauren Kaplan, the farm’s Project Coordinator, to learn about how the farm has evolved, how it weathered Hurricane Sandy, and what 2013 holds for the organization. To get involved with the Battery Urban Farm, come to their volunteer days on Wednesdays from 4–6 pm.
What were some of the big projects you worked on this season– new school groups, other ways the farm expanded? What was different from the first year?
2012 was a thrilling year for us. As you know, The Battery Conservancy opened the farm in April 2011, and we worked with about 860 students over the course of that first year. In our second year, we recognized some new needs from our community, and made significant program changes to respond to those. We brought on a magnificent Farm Educator and Farm Foreman, developed curriculum for our guided farm education classes, streamlined field trip visits for schools and camps with our Enrichment Visit program–and we launched a City Seedlings summer program for little children, weekly volunteer hours, and monthly Saturday harvest hours and community farm-stand days.
We were lucky enough to partner with Grow to Learn NYC to get our food into school cafeterias, and decided to host a new Spring Fest event for our families and farm friends. (We even got a surprise visit from Growing Power’s Will Allen!) Ultimately we ended up doubling the number of students we worked with to 1,800. All in all, a pretty amazing second year.
What did the hurricane do to the farm? The offices? How does this bode for the future of the farm, Battery Park, and the Battery Conservancy in general?
The Battery Conservancy took a blow–there’s no doubt about it. Our office, on the lower level of a waterfront building, was quite literally washed away–we had floor to ceiling flooding for days. The walls fell down. We lost literally everything. The park was flooded, but between our amazing staff and tireless volunteers we managed to a lot of damage control–flushing out soils and cutting back plants. Recent soil tests have assured us that we can be planting by April!
With all of the unanticipated expenses and the month without any office space, equipment, or supplies, we are certainly set back, and are still in the process of recovery… But just like our gardens, we’re resilient, and are investigating new relationships and funding opportunities (including our soon-to-be-announced Indiegogo campaign!) to help us spring back.
There have been plans to move the farm’s location since it started… what is the plan now? What are you working on over the winter? What are plans for next season?
The Battery Urban Farm was originally started (at the request from eight students) as a one year project. But what do you say when those students–and hundreds more–all want the farm to stay? You say yes. Battery Urban Farm isn’t going anywhere. We might relocate or change in shape a bit, as we grow and make room for the Bikeway – but we’re here for good, as long as our community wants us and the funding is in place.
We’ve been using the winter to map out some really exciting new goals for this year, including plans to pilot a Teacher Training course to enable teachers and gardeners to become garden educators, roll out some educational signage in the farm, and to further develop our Education Apprenticeship and Farm Internship programs. The first big change you’ll see, though, is our Earth Fest event on April 20! [Note: to learn more about Earth Fest and other recent farm happenings you can read the newsletter here].
What are the Battery Conservancy’s plans for their other projects?
The Battery Conservancy has always followed sustainable practices in the farm, but this year we’re taking it a step further to not only practice but promote sustainability within our community. We are thrilled to be kicking off the season and celebrating Earth Day with Earth Fest: an event to bring families and farm friends together to promote food, farming and sustainability in our community. We hope you’ll join us for a day of service on the farm, which will include demonstrations, arts and crafts, workshops and games–and other activities to inspire all of us to eat thoughtfully, reduce waste and feel empowered to create more green space in our communities.
Also, keep your eyes open for more updates on the spectacular SeaGlass, our amazing aquatic carousel that simulates a ride to the bottom of the sea. The chambered nautilus-inspired pavilion is being constructed now, and we will have a sneak preview of the ride at our annual gala in June before it opens to the public in fall.
How do you see the Battery Urban Farm fitting in with the larger farming scene in New York City? Do you collaborate with other farms locally? Do you see Battery Urban Farm having a niche or a specific role to fill?
There are a lot of really exciting farms and garden projects sprouting up all over NYC, and one of our goals is to continue to encourage more of that–both passively by serving as a model and inspiring example, and actively through events and working with partner organizations. Each of these farms and gardens has something special to offer.
Battery Urban Farm is unique in two ways. First of all, we’re very accessible, located at street-level in the middle of a public park, rather than squeezed into an empty lot in the middle of a block or tucked away on a rooftop, where passersby cannot see (and often aren’t even aware of) the farm. Anyone can walk into Battery Urban Farm, including any of the 6 million visitors that The Battery receives annually. Second, we are the largest educational farm on public land in all of Manhattan. And as the #1 “top gainer” in the 9-and-under population (a whopping 129% growth according to a recent NY Times article), Battery Urban Farm is in a prime position to serve a key educational role in the lives of thousands of downtown children and schools. We are a model, and we hope to see similar projects in other NYC public parks to complement the good work that individual schools and community gardeners are doing. We all need to work together to inspire young farmers and a general appreciation for the work that we do (and the food that we grow).
Ultimately, though, we feel that each NYC farm or garden has a very important role to play and something unique to offer, and we try to connect our student farmers and their families with as many of these projects and organizations as we can.
Have your experiences working at the farm changed your views on sustainability? What do you see working and what needs to be improved in New York? Especially in light of Hurricane Sandy, have you noticed a conversational shift around sustainability and urban farming?
I have noticed that existing conversations about sustainability have begun to reference Storm Sandy as further evidence of our need to make positive changes. I unfortunately cannot say that I personally have seen many new conversations start in sectors that maybe weren’t previously concerned with sustainability – but I would love to be proven wrong about that. The shortest answer I can give to this question is to read the recommendations in the Urban Design Lab’s The Potential for Urban Agriculture in NYC. Short of that, one of the biggest changes I believe we can and should make now is to create a city-wide composting program. 40 percent of food is lost from farm to landfill. We recognize the need, we have the tools, and it can happen now. NYC needs to build on the great work that GrowNYC and the NYC Compost Project have already started with DSNY. I also think we should follow Chicago’s inspiring example in streamlining and formalizing the process to make public land available for farmers and farmer development programs.
On a more personal note, I believe that you make more positive change when you inspire healthy
eating habits than you do when you limit unhealthy ones. Rather than spending our time trying to tax or outlaw the bad foods, let’s educate kids on what good food is and get them excited about it by allowing them to grow it, tend it, harvest it, prepare it, and taste it themselves. Let’s see if they inspire their parents, like these boys did, to make changes at home–whether it’s cooking or composting more or wasting less. Let’s do more in this city to get parents and teachers to start gardens in their backyards. Let’s inspire people to want to make good or more well-informed decisions rather than trying to take something away from them.
In Paris, sheep are being used to graze (and fertilize) a plot of land behind the municipal archives building, and there are plans to use them across the city if they prove effective. The use of sheep or goats to clear an area of weeds, also known as “eco-grazing,” has been used in New York City as well. In Freshkills Park, Staten Island, goats are part of a strategy to rid the area of phragmites, invasive weedsthat can cause brush fires and choke out native species.
Goats and sheep are useful for clearing out unwanted plants, especially in areas that would be difficult for lawn mowers to reach. Employing animals is also a more eco-friendly practice than using gas-powered devices or polluting herbicides to manage land. Their wastes can be used as fertilizer, there are hopes for a Freshkills dairy to produce artisanal cheeses from the goats’ milk. Seattle, WA, also uses goats to clear hillsides and along highways that would be dangerous for people to clear or would prove impractical terrain for machines.
Goats and sheep have a long history of residence in New York. The Sheep Meadow in Central Park was home to a flock of sheep from 1864 to 1934, and they were housed, along with their shepherd, in what is now the Tavern on the Green restaurant. In the 1930s, there were enough goats in NYC to warrant annual goat beauty pageants sponsored by the Brewers Board of Trade to find the best-looking billy goats to adorn beer posters. Just last summer, two goats lived on Governors Island and assisted Earth Matter, the compost non-profit, by eating food scraps.
“They help us teach that we are all part of the food cycle,” says Earth Matter’s Marisa DeDominicis. “They help with recycling by eating Island visitors’ food scraps, processing farm byproducts such as veggies that have gone to seed, and augmenting Island maintenance by trimming trees, eating weeds and nibbling on the acres of grass.”
And now, adorable pictures of goats:
And finally, a video combing the vocal talents of Taylor Swift and a goat.
Top photo: “Goat Pageant from the 1930s”: Grist.org
Dozens of people lined up in a parking lot between some industrial buildings and the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn on a recent sunny Saturday morning to pick up stick-figure-sized Redbud trees about four feet tall. More than half of the 100 trees ready to go were picked up within the first 45 minutes of a two-hour stretch, said Sophie Plitt, Forestry Coordinator of New York Restoration Project.
About once a week in the spring and fall, the NYRP – in conjunction with the city – goes to different neighborhoods and gives away trees for free. (See our coverage of this year’s free tree announcement for upcoming giveaway dates and locations.)
The last three tree giveaways of 2012 were canceled after Hurricane Sandy. The storm knocked down more than 10,000 trees, said Tara Kiernan, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department. That’s fifteen times as many tree casualties than after 2011’s Hurricane Irene, which took down about 650 trees.
But since 2007, about 662,000 trees have taken root, or an average of more than 100,000 a year. This growth is a result of the “MillionTreesNYC” program, a PlaNYC partnership between the city and NYRP.
“All in all, I would not say [Sandy] is a significant set-back for MillionTreesNYC,” said Mike Mitchell, NYRP community initiatives manager.
“Tree loss was factored in at the beginning,” he noted, “whether it be from storms, mechanical damage, soils salted from people clearing snow from their sidewalk, people pouring concrete or laying bricks around the base of a tree, etc.”
The new replace the casualties. Older trees are more vulnerable to storms because they have more leafs, said Mitchell. “Because young trees have less canopy,” he added, “their branches are more supple, and they have significantly less leaf surface area to be blown like a sail.”
However, according to Kiernan, the little guys have more than just youth going for them. “Thanks to new planting methods we’ve implemented and careful consideration given to species selection and planting locations,” she said, “our newly planted trees have been less susceptible to storm damage.”
In 2011, the New York Times citied studies that said 7 to 11 percent of newly planted trees die within two years. However, almost all the trees felled by storms were later reported by the New York Observer to be old trees that predate the MillionTreesNYC program.
Prior to MillionTreesNYC, the city planted 10,000 trees every year–about the same number knocked by Sandy.
The city’s winning battle to add to the estimated five million trees across the boroughs can be attributed to the thousands of New Yorkers who line up to pick up the bark and do the planting independently at home. Only New York City residents are allowed to take the trees and the rules limit each household to a tree, Plitt said.
The boroughs with the highest turnouts at tree giveaways are Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, said Mitchell. “A lot of the time this has to do with the fact there are fewer households with green space in the areas we do tree giveaways in the Bronx and Manhattan,” he noted.
The focus of MillionTreesNYC, which started with a tree planted on Teller Avenue in the Bronx, has been in neighborhoods with a scarcity of trees. The Parks Department focuses on planting trees in public spaces such as sidewalks and parks.
From the NYRP site in Gowanus, Forestry Coordinator Sophie Plitt speaks about Eastern Redbuds and the experience of giving trees:
Photos and video: Shannon Ayala
The New York Restoration Project, the Bette Midler-founded, community garden-protecting organization has announced its annual Spring Tree Giveaway. The NYRP, in partnership with Toyota, will be giving away 4,500 trees over thirty separate giveaway days from March until May.
Register here to get a tree and learn more about the restrictions you have to agree to before taking a tree home (plant in one of the five boroughs, and not on a fire escape). Representatives will be available at each giveaway to run you through the basics of planting, watering and maintaining your tree. Learn more about NYC’s goal to plant 1,000,000 trees over the next decade here.
More from the New York Restoration Project:
Find Giveaway Dates and Locations Near You:
Registration will be posted no earlier than three weeks before a giveaway date. If registration is closed, a limited quantity of trees will be available on a first come, first served basis.
To pick up your free tree, you must agree:
– To plant in one of the five boroughs.
– To keep trees properly watered and maintained.
– NOT to plant your tree along streets, in city parks, in containers, terraces, balconies or on roofs.
Learn how to take care of your new tree at one of our free tree care workshops.
View photos of fall and spring 2012 tree giveaways on Facebook.
Have questions? Read the FAQ’s for tree adopters.
Photo: New York Restoration Project
While the St. Patrick’s Day parade rolled up Fifth Avenue on Saturday, a scene unfolded in the East River that might have been more common in the eighteenth century: canoeists met a dolphin in a gentle snowfall.
T Willis Elkins shot the footage on Saturday: “I paddled out with fellow members of the North Brooklyn Boat Club in snowy and foggy conditions to try and find the recently sighted dolphin in the East River. And we did! All footage filmed from a canoe near the shores of Greenpoint. Thanks to Fung Lim (bow paddler seen here).” h/t Nathan Storey
Bring your little one to the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden to explore nature and plant science through hands on activities. Their most current program looks closely at a wide array of artistic and scientific terrariums. Kids can create their own rocky, mossy, or floral world in a jar to take home!
This event extends from March 2– April 22nd.
Photo: Tennant Lim
The New York Botanical celebrates their 11th annual orchid show with thousands of orchids arranged by Francisca P. Coehlho. The very anticipated exhibition the largest of its kind in the United States displays orchids of a variety of colors, sizes and textures. Join them and explore their collection of orchids from all over the world including orchids from Australia, Africa, South America, and Madagascar. The orchid show will run from March 2nd through April 22nd, 2013.
Join experienced runners from the Staten Island Athletic Club (SIAC) for one hour training runs leading up to the High Rock Challenge Adventure Race.The group will leave at 8 am from the High Rock parking lot. Everyone is welcome.There is no charge and no reservation requirement.