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!