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To Best Help Monarchs, Plant Native Milkweeds

scpmonarchFirst the good news: Monarch butterfly populations, which had fallen to alarmingly low levels in 2013, rebounded slightly in 2014. But we need to do a lot more to insure that these amazing little creatures can thrive. They’re very good indicators about the health of the environment in general, and if they fail, it’s likely that we will soon follow.

However human development continues to consume more and more Monarch habitat. So what can we do to turn this situation around?

The answer? Milkweeds.

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Could Urban Foraging Actually Feed the Poor?

urbanforagingFood is growing all around us. At the edge of roads, in the cracks of sidewalks, along driveways and byways and especially in parks, edible species abound. Even dandelions, that scourge of smooth green lawns, can be eaten- the tubers as well as the leaves.

In Stuy Cove Park, we have quite a few edible plants, including mulberries, blueberries, mountain mint, rose hips and plenty more than I can name here (but we’ll try and do a special blog post about this as we get closer to spring, including tips on how to get your berries on without hurting our plants!)

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Hudson Valley Seed Library Is Accepting Nominations for Seed Donations

hvslHudson Valley Seed Library is a great resource for heirloom and open-pollinated seeds (open pollinated seeds are the ones that require insect or other outside pollinators, as opposed to self-pollinating) that are 100% organic and mostly picked at the Seed Library’s own farm. And every year, they donate thousands of packs of seeds to deserving gardeners at schools, community gardens and seed-sharing organizations, and yours could be one of them!

But you’ll need to act fast.

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Home Depot & BJ’s Wholesale Club Will Limit Bee-Killing Pesticides


After a number of years of studying mysterious bee behavior and colony collapse disorder, this past May Harvard researchers announced a connection between massive bee die-offs and neonicotinoid pesticides. Bees are responsible for pollinating as much as a third of our food supply- without them, foods like strawberries and almonds would disappear completely, along with many other favorite foods. Gardeners and fresh food advocates have been lobbying for something to be done, and now Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club are responding by agreeing to limit or eliminate neonicotinoids from all nursery plants by the end of 2014, or else have suppliers add warning labels like “caution to pollinators”. The hope is that this will add a cost burden to the production of pesticide-laden plants.

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Cranksgiving Returns to Solar One This Saturday

Cranksgiving is an annual bike ride/scavenger hunt/food drive, helping to feed the hungry on Thaksgiving for the past 15 years. And unlike other, much more notorious holiday food drives, this one does not involve drinking (until the afterparty, of course), carolling or the despoiling of sidewalks or stoops. Costumes are optional!

Collected food will be donated to the Bowery Mission, a fantastic NYC charity for the homeless. Their pantry shelves are pretty bare right now, so they need you more than ever!

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Farming Energy

Imagine generating renewable energy and yielding crops simultaneously. This multitasking miracle has been achieved recently in Japan, where “Solar Sharing” gained a foothold after the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries lifted the ban on PV solar system installations on agricultural lands.

The concept was developed in 2004 by Japanese agricultural machinery engineer Akira Nagashima, after he discovered a crucial photosynthetic clue. Nagashima noted that plants have a light saturation point at which increased amounts of sunlight does not aid the plant’s photosynthesis process, giving agricultural lands somewhat of a surplus of unused sunlight.

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