Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kensington Composting and Native Plants Garden Transforms Vacant Lot

When Louise Bruce moved into Kensington last spring, she saw an ugly vacant lot strewn with garbage at the corner of East 8th Street and Newkirk Avenue. Not one to let things lie, Bruce asked permission to develop the lot, which ultimately proved to be a wonderful way to help her neighbors and herself.

Today the lot has been transformed into an oasis of beauty and environmental awareness as a home to a garden of native plants and a compost center.
Brooklyn Native Plant Garden

Composting is a wonderful way to reduce trash output, but also to create a highly usable soil-like substance which is like a magic fertilizer for plants. People in the neighborhood bring their organic trash, like banana peels, coffee grounds and  potato skins, to a pile in the lot. There the trash is transformed through natural processes into "compost" to be used to grow plants.

"In essence, it becomes really rich plant food," said garden volunteer Kate Grace-Mitchell. "New York City pays something like one million dollars a day to truck out garbage, a large percentage of which can be composted right here in our backyards."

Grace-Mitchell explained the importance of having a garden with native plants.

"If we don't have native plant gardens providing habitats for native insects, which pollinate our plants, our food gardens are useless. We'd love to educate the community about the importance of these less obvious things," said Grace-Mitchell. "And of course, create a nice aesthetic too."

Compost can be brought to the garden on Sundays and Thrusdays from 3pm to 6pm, and the residents are thrilled to have it.

"I've been looking for a place to compost forever," said resident Laura Helton, beaming as she dumped three large freezer bags full of compost material into a large, not-too-smelly bin. "I've been dragging my frozen kitchen scraps to Union Square for three years now."