In June, the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) was awarded a mini-grant for a com-post bin from Grow to Learn, which is a citywide initiative that helps promote the creation of sustainable gardens in NYC public schools. (The grants awarded by Grow to Learn are funded in part by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC and Green Mountain Energy Company.)
Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman, applied for this mini-grant during the spring in hopes of developing a recycling component for the UGC and to further her lessons on sustainability. “Sustainable agriculture is using eco-friendly techniques around the garden that help protect the environment,” explained Roytman. For example, the soil in the UGC is not chemically treated. Roytman uses compost to help fertilize the soil, and sprinkles spicy or strong smelling herbs to deter insects and other critters from eating the plants. Composting is the process of taking green waste (food, leaves, and other organic materials) and waiting for it to break down into nutrient rich humus.
The mini-grant will allow local school PS 346 to purchase a cedar wood composter that forms a three-bin composting system with a sifter, soil thermometer, a com-post crank twister, and chicken wire. Roytman plans on teaching students how to dispose of green waste (rotten fruit, vegetables, etc.) using the compost bins. Recycling this green waste, unused or spoiled vegetation can create a compost that will help break down organic materials for the plants to absorb, and creates a natural alternative to chemical fertilizer. According to Grow NYC, a sustainable resource for New Yorkers, “Food comprises about 17% of NYC’s waste stream. When this material is sent to a landfill it contributes to NYCs disposal costs and can create greenhouse gas emissions.”
Roytman is excited to integrate more lessons on sustainability and show students about the lifecycle of plants.