Trees New York

Green Thumbin’ It: North Brooklyn Community Garden Roundup

61 Franklin Street Community Garden. Photo by Lucie Levine
61 Franklin Street Garden. Photo by Lucie Levine

It’s planting season, and North Brooklyn’s giving us lots of opportunities to play in the dirt. This past weekend community members turned out for OpenHouseGCEFBushwick Inlet Park’s Daffodil Planting, Free Garden Workshops at the McCarren Park Demonstration Garden, and Transmitter Park’s Weeding Workshop. On Saturday, you can participate in the Friends of Cooper Park Daffodil Planting. If you’re a Greenpoint Resident, you can even become a licensed Citizen Pruner for just $15 by completing the Trees New York Tree Pruning Course beginning This evening, October 16th.

If the current Columbia study on lead levels in Greenpoint’s soil has you steering clear of all things growing, community gardens could help you find a safer place to try out your green thumb: the study finds that public park spaces have significantly lower concentrations of lead than private yards. Further, based on Cornell’s 2014 study of New York City community garden soils, NYC Parks GreenThumb (which administers the city’s community gardens) prioritized clean soil deliveries to affected gardens.

So, ready to pull a Joni Mitchell and get yourself back to the garden? With over 600 community gardens throughout all five boroughs, New York City has the largest community gardening program in the nation. This handy NYC Parks GreenThumb Community Garden Guide lets you search by zip code or address to find the ones closest to you. Read on for a roundup of local community gardens. Continue reading

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Who Sees the Trees? Greenpoint’s Citizen Pruners!

Emerald City. Photo by Lucie Levine
Emerald City. Photo by Lucie Levine

We might live in the concrete jungle, but according to this fantastic interactive tree map made by the New York City Parks department, Greenpoint is blessed with arboreal abundance. Our lovely neighborhood trees benefit from the care of volunteer environmental stewards, known as Citizen Pruners. 

Greenpointer Sarah Balistreri, the fabulous force behind the instagram account @wildgreenpoint, who helped conduct the tree census that informs the map, is a Citizen Pruner. After taking a tree identification course at the Brooklyn Brainery, which sparked a love of urban street trees, Sarah took the Trees New York Citizen Pruner course and became a licensed tree-hugger.

The Citizen Pruner course trains and certifies New Yorkers in “tree care, biology, identification and pruning.” Sarah explains that all of these skills and areas of knowledge are intertwined when it comes to properly caring for New York’s Trees, because knowing about a tree’s species, and the specific challenges that species has with weather or growth, helps inform how you prune it.

Trees New York is the only organization in the city that trains and certifies Citizen Pruners, and only certified Citizen Pruners can legally prune street trees in New York. Trees New York certifies about 200 Citizen Pruners every year, but Greenpoint residents are particularly lucky. Anyone who lives in zip code 11222 is eligible for the Greening Greenpoint Scholarship, and can take the course for just $15, thanks to funding from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund! Continue reading

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