HarborLAB’s annual Winter Solstice Seed Gathering with Hunters Point Community Middle School was a fun educational outing, thanks our volunteers, science teacher Mary Mathai and Western Queens Manager Norman Chan of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. The seeds we gathered will help make our spring and summer greener and our autumn even more golden!
We focused our efforts on goldenrod and pitch pine along the park’s East River waterfront. HarborLAB Executive Director Erik Baard presented a brief slide show about the importance of these two native species in providing food and shelter to birds and insects. Students also learned about how these goldenrod and pitch pine evolved to thrive in poor soil and to harness the wind to distribute their seeds. HarborLAB has partnered with Hunters Point Community Middle School since before it opened its doors. Over the years we’ve delivered oysters to the school by kayak from the Billion Oyster Project on Governors Island, taken faculty and staff on paddling trips, taken students on local field trips, and conducted classroom activities and lectures on topics ranging from seeds to water quality.
At this Wednesday, December 21 event, HardborLAB volunteer Diana Szatkowski, PhD, joined Hunters Point Community Middle School faculty and staff in helping selected special needs students focus during their field work with tactile and interrogative learning techniques.The group filled zip bags for later planting and seedball making. We left plants still in flower undisturbed and also limited our gathering of goldenrod seeds so that birds would have plenty of food stock for the winter ahead. In 2016 we planted gathered seeds directly and by seedball on shorelines throughout NYC, including Bushwick Inlet, Newtown Creek, South Brother Island, Coney Island Creek, and Plumb Beach. We communicate with park authorities and conservation organizations to identify locations and species that would best support native habitat restoration.
Photo gallery below by Baard and Szatkowski.