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Growing Our Community

Published June 05, 2022

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7 min read

"Growing Our Community" is a PPUABA initiative whose purpose is to grow our relationships through environmental activities that improve our community, lift our spirits and keep us grounded.

RECENT UPDATES
Our third annual Plant Share was held June 4, 2022 in conjunction with our spring multi-block stoop sales. Neighbors brought plants and/or took plants (it wasn't necessary to bring a plant to take one). Neighbors contributed excess seedlings, cuttings and plants from their gardens, consulted with Growing Our Community coordinator Den Gordon about which plants might do best in their specific growing conditions, and took plants that met their needs. These Plant Share events are a great way to spread the joy of gardening and enabling neighbors to connect!

In our Apr 20, 2022 block association meeting, our featured speaker was Katherine Patton, a long-term volunteer with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Ms. Patton, who holds a Certificate of Horticulture and is a graduate of BBG's Brooklyn Urban Gardener program, discussed how to choose plants for window boxes, containers and tree beds.

Ms. Patton also provided several useful publications of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which relate to the topics of her talk: Window boxes
- All About Window Boxes
- Securing Window Boxes
Tree Beds and Rain Gardens
- Plants for Tree Beds
- Street Tree Bed Care
- Native Plants for NYC Rain Gardens
Other
- Testing Your Soil
- Using Mulch


There are three food scrap drop-off sites run by GrowNYC near the PPUABA blocks in Prospect Heights:

  • Thursdays 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Park Place and Carlton Avenue.
  • Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Eastern Parkway and Franklin Ave.
  • Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket near the arch.

You can find a map showing all food scrap drop-off sites here.


The Curbside Composting “brown bin” program run by NYC Dept of Sanitation resumed in Fall 2021. Although our neighborhood is not currently eligible and expansion of the program is paused due to budget constraints, we are hopeful that expansion of the program will resume when additional budget is made available. The more people who sign up to indicate interest, the more likely it is that NYC Dept of Sanitation will expand service to include our neighborhood. You can read more about Curbside Composting here, or go directly to this link to indicate interest in participating.


In our January 19, 2022 meeting, our featured speaker was Allie Gumas, DSNY's Manager of Drop-off Composting and Outreach Coordinator for Curbside Composting. You can view Ms. Gumas' presentation slides and listen to the audio of her presentation here.


UPCOMING ACTIVITIES
There are no scheduled Growing Our Community events at this time. Please also check the Friends of James Forten Playground page for information about planned activities at the Playground.

PROJECTS

  1. Tree beds: Cleaning, planting and mulching the 83 tree beds on PPUABA's 4 blocks. The colorful crocus and the bobbing heads of the gorgeous daffodils are the result of the ambitious and successful tree bed cleanup we did last fall! They have been a wonderful uplifting sight this spring.
  2. Composting: Educating our members about techniques and resources for both indoor and outdoor composting. The indoor composting bin that was set up by Sigrun Sapphire at the Sept 2020 "Meet Your Neighbors" event is still alive and well. It has migrated households but the red worms are chomping away! Read about the Moustafa family's experience below.
  3. Vanderbilt Avenue medians: Weeding, planting and mulching the Vanderbilt Avenue medians. The Rosa Rugosa that were planted last fall have come up green and bushy. We're working with the water / sewer project community liaison to ensure the plantings are appropriately protected during the construction.
  4. Rain Gardens: Learning about and maintaining the rain gardens on PPUABA blocks. Initial assessments have been completed and future activities are being planned.
  5. Friends of James Forten Playground: A community-wide effort to help the Parks Department staff in the upkeep of our much-needed and beautiful playground. More details can be found on the Friends of James Forten Playground page on this website.

For more information about the Growing Our Community initiative, please contact the Growing Our Community coordinator, Den Gordon, at dengordon@aol.com.

Below is information about the Growing Our Community activities completed in Fall 2021:
Growing Our Community - completed activity table as of 2021-12-14

Below is information about the Growing Our Community activities completed in Spring 2021:
Growing Our Community - completed activity table as of 2021-07-22

Below is information about the Growing Our Community activities completed in Fall 2020:
Growing Our Community - completed activity table as of 2010-10-25

Read more about the "Meet Your Neighbors" event here.
Read more about the James Forten Playground cleanups here.
Read more about the Tree Beds clean-up here.

COMPOSTING
We learned about indoor composting from master composter, Sigrun Saphire, at our “Meet Your Neighbors” event on Sep 30, 2020. Here's a story about the indoor composting experiences of the Moustafa family, originally published in PPUABA's Nov 2020 newsletter.
Moustafa worm bin story

What about composting outdoors?
There are 3 nearby food waste drop-off sites operated by GrowNYC:

  • Thursdays 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Park Place and Carlton Avenue.
  • Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Eastern Parkway and Franklin Ave.
  • Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket near the arch.

Following are the accepted and not accepted materials for drop-off:

  • Accepted Materials: fruit & vegetable scraps, non-greasy food scraps (rice, pasta, bread, grains, cereal), coffee grounds & filters, tea bags, egg shells & nuts, cut flowers & houseplants, soiled brown paper products, potting soil.
  • Not Accepted: meat, fish, bones, dairy, fat, oil, greasy food scraps, animal waste, charcoal, coconuts, insect-infested plants, plastics, twist ties, rubber bands, or receipts.

The Prospect Heights Community Farm (located at 252 St Marks Avenue between Vanderbilt and Underhill Avenues has stopped accepting food scraps for composting.

The Curbside Composting “brown bin” program run by NYC Dept of Sanitation resumed in Fall 2021. Although our neighborhood is not currently eligible, the more people who sign up to indicate interest, the more likely it is that NYC Dept of Sanitation will expand service to include our neighborhood. You can read more about Curbside Composting here, or go directly to this link to indicate interest in participating.

If you choose to compost in your own back garden please go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden site for comprehensive information here or go to this DSNY site for home composting information.

Finally, here’s the book that Sigrun recommends to learn about composting - Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

VANDERBILT AVENUE MEDIANS
Here are some photos of the Vanderbilt Avenue median (between Park Place and Sterling Place) before, during and after the planting of roses in the median.

"Before" - weeds and trash in the median strip Medians - 1 weeds and trash

"During" - Volunteers clear the overgrowth and plant roses in the median Medians - 2 volunteers planting roses

"After" - 6 new rose bushes planted and settling in to the median strip Medians - 3 roses planted Medians - 4 Rosa Rugosa sign

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