Planning ahead and Connecting
In February, Julia Ferguson and Anthony Longo spoke with the RIGC Board and then made an appointment with Mary Cunneen, RIOC's Director of Parks and Recreation, to speak about compost collaborations for 2019. Longo works constantly leading the Compost committee and RIGC members in making "black gold" from our garden plant materials and from a few gardeners' food scraps. Ferguson is a big compost fan who volunteers at Big Reuse when possible, and also works with the RIGC Compost committee.
Mary Cunneen was very open and interested as Anthony and Julia talked about past years when RIGC has received and shared "compost give backs" from NYC Compost hosted by Big Reuse. Compost is a rich, natural soil amendment made from mixing greens (like food scraps) and browns (like wood chips) which Big Reuse does locally at their site under the Queensboro bridge. Food scraps are actually not trash. Through the NYC Compost program, NYC soils in gardens and parks are fed and rebuilt "closing the natural recycling loop" on all food scraps that Roosevelt Islanders and other New Yorkers drop off from their residences at sites city wide. Big Reuse hosts 14 of these sites. Alvin Ulloa is in now charge of the Drop-Off site on Roosevelt Island and keeps the RI Saturday Drop-Off running smoothly. Shakara Petteway, Bella Rabinovich, and Gil Lopez at NYC Compost hosted by Big Reuse answer queries from RIGC and RIOC quickly and consistently. All these people were key partners as this year's plans were hatched and fully realized on June 5th and June 8th, 2019.
Compost Give Back - June 5th
So this year in June with the full collaboration and help of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, a RIOC truck and team went to the NYC Compost Big Reuse composting site under the Queensboro Bridge to pick up compost. That day Citigroup employees were volunteering at RIGC and helped RIGC Board members unload some of this beautiful natural resource. Then, Fernando Vargas and others on the RIOC team prepped the beds and sites for RI Day. All in all, Roosevelt Island received 8 cubic yards of beautiful sifted NYC compost, closing the loop on food scrap drop offs by rebuilding city soil again this year. This compost was shared with RIGC and also with RIOC for Good Shepherd Plaza planting spaces and "pocket meadow/ butterfly beds" on Main Street.
Beautification on Roosevelt Island Day - June 8th
RIGC worked closely with Jessica Murray, Supervisor of Community Affairs at RIOC. Jessica carefully and kindly led and coordinated us all for the benefit of the whole community. We also connected often with partner Christina Delfico @iDig2Learn as RI Day approached. Christina was amazing and instrumental in helping to source pollinator plants with RIOC. iDig2Learn's work presence was key in promoting learning about composting and more. Anthony Longo brought GRIN (Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors) for all the composting and a new RI resident, Danika Lam, volunteered all day long and took care of the 9/11 memorial tree bed. Anthony gave out compost to more individuals than we've been able to give to before on RI Day following up on what Big Reuse does annually each spring.
For the beautification and planting activities, all kinds of RI neighborly volunteers showed up: pre-schoolers and their families, young couples new to the Island, Roosevelt Island Girl Scouts, CERT volunteers and more. Roosevelt Island Garden Club members and associates: Jack, Alexander, Julia, Graciela, Aiesha, Anthony, Laura and Zita, all led planting teams and helped in major ways. One young helper quickly recognized the orange Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) from a lesson about Monarch butterflies in his elementary school. He was planting alongside his grandmother, a Roosevelt Island resident. To get a great sense of the whole day, check out more beautiful pictures in the RI Day album on the RIOC facebook page.
From Past Projects to Ongoing Compost Resources
Two years ago, our Roosevelt Island Food Scrap Drop Off from NYC Compost hosted by Big Reuse was featured in local news in a WIRE article, so please click to learn more! Last summer, RIGC shared a 2018 donation of some Big Reuse unsifted NYC Compost at Coler Hospital to amend new flower beds created for the restoration of their Magnolia Courtyard. In recent years, RIGC has given compost and also RIOC donated tree mulch to both the RIHS Kiosk Garden and to Life Frames Living Library. RIGC donated a composter to the Carder Burden Senior Center patio garden. And the list goes on....compost is definitely a renewable, natural resource that lends itself to community building and beautification. Composting is also one of the top 100 solutions to reversing global warming as researched by Project Drawdown.
In 2016, RIGC shared NYC Compost from Big Reuse with an iDig2Learn project for a P.S. I.S. 217 school planting. We can still say as we said then, RIGC is so glad to be a part of all this! We say thanks again to everyone in this circle and ...
"Remember to bring your food scraps on Saturdays between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to the RI Food Scrap Drop Off Site run by NYC Compost hosted by BigReuse!"