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Category Archives:

Organic Farming

green goats

Due To Covid-19, Twenty Goats Will Soon Be Eating Lower Manhattan

green goatsStuyvesant Cove Park, New York NYNew York City’s parks are proving to be yet another unwitting victim of the pandemic crisis. Short staffing, budget cuts, and reduced volunteer opportunities have left many of our green spaces to their own devices, and the weeds have been having a (literal) hay day. Compounding the issue is the fact that as New York residents have needfully turned to parks as safe outlets for socialization and recreation, they have also, sadly, left excessive trash and trampled plantings in their wake.

“It’s just a lot for our two person team to handle”, says Candace Thompson, the manager of Stuyvesant Cove Park in lower Manhattan. “Mother Nature really got the jump on us with the weeds this spring and I feel like we’ll never catch up on top of everything else.”

Which is why that particular park has decided to hire some help of the non-human variety. Starting September 8th, 20 goats from Green Goats of Rhinebeck will be taking a Manhattan mini-vacation within a fenced off area of “Stuy Cove” Park, a 2 acre native food forest on the East River. During their tenure, the goats will be charged with a simple task: eat everything in sight. Solar One, the environmental education non-profit that manages the space, hopes this will assist park staff in minimizing excessive plant biomass while also fertilizing the soil for next season, all in just a few short days. While goats may seem an unorthodox fix to a weed problem, foraging animals have long been used in sustainable agricultural practices to manage overabundant species, and Green Goats in particular have been lending their services to public spaces and institutions across the greater New York area for over 15 years.

“When Larry and I first started our goatscaping company, my family back home in Guayana all teased me.” says Annilita Cihanek, co-owner of Green Goats of Rhinebeck. “Now we work full time on contracts for city, state and national parks, we travel constantly, and get lots of press. Let me tell you, my family isn’t laughing any more!”

Over the past three decades goatscaping has become increasingly popular as an herbicide-free way to manage invasive species. Goats have been used for weed control both on Chinese tea plantations and in California forests for brush control and wildfire prevention. Now they’ll be taking a stab (or nibble, as it were) at Stuy Cove’s bindweed problem.

Interested in being a part of the action? You can sign up to volunteer, support Stuy Cove’s GOAT FUND ME, or follow along with these walking weedeaters from home via the park’s Instagram. With remote and in-person learning starting the same week here in NYC, students and teachers alike can visit the park’s ‘Goat Cam’ to check their progress, or take a Zoom break and come watch sustainable land stewardship in action.

Solar One (CEC Stuyvesant Cove, Inc.): Solar One is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to design and deliver innovative education, training, and technical assistance that fosters sustainability and resiliency in diverse urban environments. We empower learning that changes the way people think about energy, sustainability, and resilience by engaging and educating a diverse set of stakeholders and beneficiaries. Our programs help individuals and communities explore new ways of living and working that are more adaptive to a changing world.

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For more info contact Candace Thompson, Stuy Cove Park Manager at candace@solar1.org or Michael Barry, Solar One Communications Manager at (646) 741-5225 or via email at barry@solar.org.

 

The Green Bronx Machine & The Power of a Plant

The Power of a Plant tells the engaging story of Bronx educator Stephen Ritz and his journey to embody his three Cs- “collisions, connections and co-learnings” through creating the Green Bronx Machine at the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS55 in the South Bronx. Students learn a a variety of curriculum-tied skills while also learning about health, nutrition and the environment.

As he evolves from “Mista”  in the 1980s to “Mr. Farmer Steve” in the 21st century, Ritz was inspired by his students’ brightness, creativity and hunger for positive reinforcement; working with special education students in the city’s poorest congressional district meant that positive reinforcement was the last thing his kid were getting. By encouraging each student to “make your thinking visible” helped students to gain the confidence to take on ever-more complex problems. Soon students who had been basically written off as hopeless were taking on beautifying projects in the South Bronx and making the evening news.

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Teachers! Check Out the New Green Design Lab Website

gdl_blogThe Solar One Education team is excited to launch our new, enhanced website, thegreendesignlab.org!

The new website is easy to navigate and offers new features for registering for our Professional Development Workshops, the Green Design Lab Energy Challenge, and a host of resources for our Sustainable Schools Network members!

Since its inception 6 years ago, the Green Design Lab has grown to reach teachers and students in over 400 schools. During this time, Solar One Educators have provided professional development training for teachers on our hands-on curriculum, in-class programming for students, and support for energy reduction and school sustainability projects. With the development and growth of the Green Design Lab Sustainable Schools Network (SSN), Solar One Educators have reached teachers across the United States.

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World’s Largest Indoor Vertical Farm Coming to Newark, NJ

newarkverticalfarmMany people may believe that New Jersey’s nickname, “the Garden State,” is nothing but a joke. Though the exact provenance of the nickname is unknown, New Jersey largely deserves it: The state boasts more than 700,000 acres of farmland, and is a big producer of cranberries, blueberries and of course, tomatoes.

Despite that, many neighborhoods in the states largest city, Newark, don’t get to share in that bounty. But now they may not have to.

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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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