Good Turf Tidings!


HarborLAB has worked hard on its shoreline habitat restoration GreenLaunch project, clearing space, scattering milkweed seeds, protecting beneficial natives, stabilizing collapsing soil, and other important work. But one thing we avoided doing was digging or having younger students visit the site, out of concern that our Superfund zone property might pose dangers. Well, we recently got some good news!

Wanda Ayala, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Involvement Coordinator, wrote in an email to HarborLAB:

“EPA has reviewed the results of the five samples collected at 53-21 Vernon Blvd. The maximum detected concentrations of the five samples for each chemical were compared to the most recent EPA Regional Screening Levels (dated January 2015). Based on this comparison, receptors exposed to the contaminant concentrations detected in the soils associated with typical activities would not likely be associated with any adverse health effects.”

Not that our site is pristine by any stretch, but we can move forward with improvements with greater confidence and inclusion. “Many chemicals were detected, some in all samples, some in only one or two, but at concentrations below levels of concern,” Ayala wrote.

What does this mean for the GreenLaunch? Well, our fruit orchards will still be grown in raised beds of fresh soil with a vinyl barrier. This will come from used billboards provided by our co-tenant Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which is the same material employed in landfill-capping park developments. This is an abundance of caution given the repeatedly evidenced safety of urban orchards. With the new information from the EPA, we’ll soon plant some indigenous fruit trees and bushes, like serviceberry and beach plum, directly into our shoreline ridge as a welcoming habitat for birds.

So gardeners and wilderness revivalists, come on down! Let’s clear space and plant! To join the effort, email with the subject line “GreenLaunch.” Thanks!


Etsy. Earth Day Initiative, and HarborLAB at Work!

Etsy doing the crafting this time.

Etsy doing the crafting this time.

HarborLAB had a wonderful and productive time working on its GreenLaunch with Etsy, thanks to our nonprofit fiscal sponsor Earth Day Initiative! Two waves of volunteers made seed balls and wooden pallet planters, planted seedlings grown in eggshells, began creating our habitat restoration’s substrate soil, and moved bricks off site to free up space for greening and to make them available for donation.

More details to come after the Clearwater Festival!

Get to Know Earth Day Initiative!


What day is it? Earth Day, of course! Earth Day is every day and everywhere across the globe, from the deep ocean to low orbit. What are you doing for it? That’s the spirit of our fiscal sponsor’s new logo and name: Earth Day Initiative. Earth Day consciousness must inspire actions — a shared spirit of initiative — each day if we’re to resolve crises facing our world. Humanity can thrive only within Earth’s universally unique biosphere.

Earth Day Initiative started as Earth Day New York in 1990, and annually stages our grandest celebrations of sustainable living. But over these 25 years, Earth Day New York grew into an organization that educates and serves well beyond the April  hoopla and the five boroughs. One of the great things it made possible is HarborLAB itself, accepting donations on our behalf as fiscal sponsor and helping us with administration until we fledge as an independent 501(C)(3) nonprofit. Earth Day Initiative also introduces HarborLAB to volunteer teams as we work to transform our waterfront!

So check out Earth Day Initiative, support the organization generously, and make use of this great, engaging environmental brain trust!