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HarborLAB is Getting Seedier!


HarborLAB intern Jamilah Grizzle (second from left) and volunteers Patricia Vidals-Aquino, Scott Wolpow, and Phillip Anthony Borbon seed starting in reused cardboard paper towel rolls at the HarborLAB’s Newtown Creek GreenLaunch. 

HarborLAB Performing Arts Manager Mambo Tse tossing goldenrod seedballs on White Island, Brooklyn. 

Volunteer Davis Janowski and day volunteer planting Goldenrod and Little Blue Stem at Coney Island Creek. 

HarborLAB works to make New York City safer and more beautiful by planting native plants on waterfronts in all five boroughs. Best of all, we perform this service as we explore the city by canoe and kayak!

We accomplish this through spartina seedlings provided by the Greenbelt Native Plant Center (coming by June) and seeds our students and volunteers collect (with permission from park managers) and those provided by the center, native seed companies, and our friends at Briermere Farms.

Shoreline vegetation protects us from storm surge and erosion, stabilizes dunes, and sustains birds, mammals, reptiles, and beneficial insects. These plants also beautify neglected spaces in lower-income neighborhoods and provide new science, technology, engineering, and math teaching opportunities and inspiration.

HarborLAB intern Jamilah Grizzle, a Brooklynite attending The Masters School, recently inventoried our current seed holdings so that ecologists working for city, state, and national parks and preserves can direct us to where these plants are needed and what method would be best. For example, one strategy HarborLAB loves is seedballing, because these cherry-sized globes of clay, compost, and seeds can be tossed from a boat or tossed into areas of need without trampling through nests and existing plants. Making seedballs is also a terrifically social way of teaching kids and adults about local plant life cycles and how seeds are spread in nature.

Email us at if your school or youth service group would like to make seedballs, gather seeds, make seed starters, or even paddle with us to plant!

Binomial Common name Variety
Ageratina altissima White Snakeroot  
Amelanchier Serviceberry, Shadbush.
Asclepias Milkweed Purple
Cyanococcus Blueberry Highbush, Lowbush
Eragrostis spectabilis Purple Love Grass
Fanicum virgatum Switchgrass
Helenium autumnale Sneezewood
Helianthus Sunflower Common Sunflower, Incredible, Mammoth Russian, Mammoth, Solar Eclipse, Sunscraper Hybrid, Sunshine
Lathyrus japonicus Beach Pea
Leymus mollis American Dunegrass
Lespedeza capitata Bushclover
Opuntia humifusa Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus
Phytolacca decandra Pokeweed
Pinus rigada Pitch Pine
Prunus maritima Beach Plum
Rhus typhina Staghorn sumac
Rubus altissima, occientalis Raspberry Black cap, Pennsylvania
Rudbeckia hirta Black Eyed Susan
Solidago Goldenrod Canada, Gray, Seaside

HarborLAB volunteers planting Beach Plumb at Plumb Beach, Brooklyn. 

Hour Children kids with HarborLAB volunteers planting spartina grass plugs in Jamaica Bay, Queens, under the guidance of American Littoral Society and Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers. 

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