Goats are spending the summer on Governors Island in New York Harbor and Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island as a sustainable resource for park maintenance – eating weeds, trimming trees and grass. Not only do goats graze on invasive plant species, including poison ivy, they can ‘recycle’ some food scraps from visitors as part of a composting program, which is happening on Governors Island for this first time this summer. Fort Wadsworth has hosted a summer herd of goats since 2007. Not only are these ‘living lawnmowers’ cost-effective and more sustainable than fossil-fuel burning mowers, they can reach steep inclines difficult for park maintenance workers and mowers.
Freshkills Park will host a goat herd in summer 2012. There is precedent for goat grazing on former landfill sites, previously cited in our blog post on the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in the town of Hempstead on Long Island. Stay tuned for more details on the Freshkills Park goats!
Mayor Bloomberg and several City of New York agencies recently released The Wetland Strategy report, which outlines plans to protect and improve city waterways. The report contains strategies to address goals in PlaNYC 2030. Among the 12 initiatives are plans to:
- invest $48 million in projects that restore and enhance nearly 127 acres of wetlands and neighboring areas,
- add 75 acres of wetland to the New York City Parks system,
- create the natural areas conservancy to encourage a public-private partnership for wetlands management,
- create a wetlands mitigation banking or in-lieu fee mechanism for public projects.
Freshkills Park, featured on the report’s cover and throughout the document, contains approximately 360 acres of wetlands and is about to begin a 2 acre wetland restoration pilot project in North Park.
(via City of New York)
GrowNYC, in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation and NYC Department of Education, is currently accepting applications New York City public schools for their 2012-2013 Recycling Champions Program. The program “aims to empower schools to comply with, and exceed, NYC’s recycling laws, and in the process students create school wide projects and campaigns, and learn environmental leadership skills.” Additionally, the Recycling Champions Program program seeks to advance NYC Department of Education Sustainability Initiative’s goal is to double the recycling rate at NYC public schools to 20% by 2013.
Apply by June 15th, 2012!
As work on Manhattan’s Second Avenue subway line progresses, those viewing the massively scaled operation may wonder, “where does all the excavated dirt and rock go?” In the past, the ‘muck’ from expanding subway lines and other construction projects has contributed to the building of Ellis Island, Governors Island and Battery Park City, among other city landmarks – including the expansion of the Manhattan shoreline. Crushed rock from the 7 train extension was used in the construction of Owl Hollow Fields at Freshkills Park on Staten Island and material from the Second Avenue line is being used in the construction of the Ferry Point Golf Course in the Bronx. Material from the Long Island Railroad expansion under the East River was used in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Additional waste is processed and sold for construction and landscaping by private companies.
(via City Atlas)
Methane gas produced from decomposing waste at Fresh Kills landfill is generating revenue for the City of New York of up to $12 million each year as the site is developed into a 2,200-acre park.
With the help of advanced landfill gas collection infrastructure throughout the landfill, the New York City Department of Sanitation is actively harvesting methane, through rigorous state and federal public health and safety guidelines, from the decomposing waste buried at Fresh Kills landfill. This methane, enough to heat approximately 22,000 homes, is sold to National Grid and the city generates approximately $12 million in annual revenue from the sale of that gas. Gas recovery and sale will continue until the amount of gas produced by the landfill is minimal enough as to no longer be economically viable, at which point it will be burned off at flare stations onsite.
With the objective of minimizing energy consumption within new buildings and infrastructure systems at Freshkills Park, the Department of Parks & Recreation is also exploring the use of emerging energy technologies to supply as much of the park’s energy as possible.
The NY Times highlights an effort by 596 Acres, a Brooklyn-based “public education project,” to galvanize community support in order to transform vacant city-owned land into gardens. Claiming that the city owns a collection of vacant land parcels totaling over 1,000 acres, the group, led by Paula Z. Segal, aims to inform community members of their ability to work with the city and non-profits to reshape their neighborhoods.
Using a city a database and working with researchers from the Center for the Study of Brooklyn, 596 Acres created an online map and mobile app with information about the parcels, including which agencies own them and their contact information. It is their hope that by making this information more widely available, more people will become involved in the effort because the resources are right in front of them.
There remains concern about the temporary status of the gardens. Some worry about the plots gaining legal recognition and the city losing opportunities to develop affordable housing. Others worry that once a garden is finally established it may be required to move immediately after. For this reason, and with grants from various fundraising organizations, 596 Acres has emphasized the mobility of the gardens and the ability to relocate them entirely if the city wants access to the land. The plants are planted in raised beds that sit atop forklift pallets.
On April 21st, during Earth Day weekend, Freshkills Park hosted our very first volunteer project! Staten Island Boy Scout Packs 5 and 118 (and their parents) tended to the Million Trees planting area in the South Park section of the site.
Equipped with shovels, buckets, and a desire to help the environment, the group of about 25 volunteers weeded the 1/2 acre site, home to 950 infant trees. The newly planted trees were being overtaken by knee-high weeds, infringing on their future growth. The weeding and application of mulch around the base of the trees will help ensure their survival and reduce the need for future maintenance. Mulch – which mimics the ‘blanket’ of leaves deposited on deciduous forest floors – suppresses weed growth, improves soil structure and nutrients, moderates soil temperature, and helps hold in moisture.
The volunteers were assisted by the great staff at DPR’s Natural Areas Volunteers program.
We’ve posted more photos of the Earth Day weekend volunteer project to our flickr.
Brooklyn is becoming a national model for urban agriculture. This month, a major new rooftop farming project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was announced by New York City-based Bright Farms, whose mission is centered on constructing hydroponic farms at, or near, supermarkets. With 100,000 square feet, the Sunset Park project could potentially yield 1 million pounds of produce a year.
One major advantage of hydroponic farming over more traditional forms is the lack of soil. On a rooftop, this translates to lightweight operations suitable for many buildings that would otherwise require extensive structural improvements. Rooftop hydroponic systems also harvest rainwater, preventing additional strain on the sewer system.
Though the Bright Farms greenhouse will be the largest rooftop farm in the city, and quite possibly the world, it joins several other significant and growing agricultural projects in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange, a Queens-based rooftop farming enterprise, plans to open a 45,000 square foot urban farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Farm-developers Gotham Greens will be opening a new location in the borough as well.
(via New York Times)
April is National Poetry Month which means it is time for the fourth annual Freshkills Park Haiku Contest! We will be celebrating by asking you to share your impressions, experiences, thoughts and ideas of what Freshkills Park is, will be, and what it means to you- in haiku form. A haiku is a type of poem written in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables for a total of 17 syllables. For example, here is one of our winners from last year:
The bike paths I will ride on
My old love letters
We will be awarding prizes to the top three winners in the adult category and to the winner in the youth category (under 18 years old). Submit for a chance to receive a limited edition Freshkills Park hat. Please indicate for which category you are entering.
Email your haiku, along with your name to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, April 27, at 5:00 p.m.
The future of green infrastructure within the New York metropolitan region just got brighter: NY State and City officials announced this week that over $2 billion in public and private investments would be committed to ecologically-sound techniques for the management of stormwater runoff and sewage overflow. Techniques to be implemented include densely-planted green roofs, porous pavement surfaces, and vegetated bioswales, all of which will collect rain water and redirect it from overtaxed combined sewer systems. Billions of gallons of sewage overflows are discharged into New York’s waterways each year during periods of even light rain, a result of antiquated municipal engineering known as combined sewage overflows.
An inter-agency initiative to design and implement bioretention swales – in other words, vegetated tree pits – is currently being run by the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, and our own Parks Department. The division plans to construct over 100 plots across the city’s sidewalks, medians, and outfalls by the end of the year. Several pilot bioswale plots have already been planted throughout the city, including several near the Gowanus Canal.
Bioswales and other green infrastructure strategies, in their merging of economic and environmental benefits, represent a significant commitment to the adaptive management of cities responding to a future of climate change-induced challenges.
(via Capital New York)