Black Lives Matter on World Environment Day.


When we invest our volunteer hours and donor funds into the environmental education of young black people, we’re implicitly saying that their lives and futures matter. When we educate the broader public about environmental impacts that hurt poorer communities first and worst, we’re implicitly saying that black lives matter. But sometimes words need to be explicit, clear, and loud so that those who are afflicted are comforted that others care, and those who afflict are shaken from the comfort that apathy will protect them.

And so:


The affliction now under the microscope of moral examination is the nexus of racism and police brutality. This matters greatly to our volunteers in their private lives, outside the HarborLAB mission scope. Perhaps our volunteer work helps to nurture that positive social movement. When a person gives their time and energy and gifts to a child’s education, a bond forms. They have a stake in that child’s growth and success. That volunteer can’t help but share the wound when injustice directly or indirectly injures that child, or the adult that child becomes.

A perhaps even more pervasive and dangerous assault on black lives is environmental injustice. Pollution in a child’s water or air robs that child of brain development. It dims the brilliance of the person that child was to be. And yes, environmental injustice can kill as surely as a bullet or a choke hold. The New York Times has assembled an excellent reading list on “Links Between Racism and the Environment.” The paper invites you to add your suggestions too.

Please also let us know how we at HarborLAB can improve our work or organizational culture to better meet our mission and evidence the truth of our declaration that Black Lives Matter.

Thank you. Be safe.

Erik Baard
Executive Director

Earth Day @Home SeedBalling!


April 22, 330pm-5pm
Online (registrants will receive teleconference info).
Shareable Link:

Format: Video (participants can opt to be heard but not seen)
Cost: Free (seeds can be sent for free too)
Instructions: Live demonstration and information to be sent to registrants.

Celebrate Earth Day with an activity you can do indoors and then follow up safely outside! HarborLAB will even send you seeds to make seedballs at home, either virtually together or by watching our instructional video.

To join, please register here:

Background: Seedballs are small clumps of compost or nutritious soil with native seeds (you can use ours, buy your own native seeds, or even use seeds from organic blueberries). They replicate frugivorous endozoochory, or the scattering of seeds in nutritious poop! 

Seedballs are bound together with natural clay powder or flour, or even newspaper and corn starch! HarborLAB volunteers, students, and public participants kayak to habitat areas identified by conservation agencies as needing milkweed, goldenrod, pitch pine, little bluestem, or other important species. Clay and flour balls can be simply tossed, while paper balls are lightly buried. By next season, pollinators like butterflies and bees feed from them, and birds like black skimmers nest among them. Their root systems also strengthen shorelines and the denser vegetation mitigates storm surges.

Or you can distribute seedballs, strolling or biking to abandoned lots and tossing them over fences, or scattering them in the corners of your yard or garden. 

Materials needed for clay or flour seedballs:

  • Natural clay or flour.
  • Water. 
  • Top soil or compost. 
  • Regionally appropriate seeds – HarborLAB’s, or blueberries and sunflowers are native. 
  • A bowl of water. 
  • A work surface. 
  • A shallow cardboard box, like a pizza or bakery box. 

Materials needed for paper seedballs:

  • Prep time of about three hours before the activity. 
  • Newspaper.
  • Corn starch.
  • Water.
  • Top soil or compost (optional).
  • Regionally appropriate seeds – HarborLAB’s, or organic blueberries and sunflowers are native. 
  • A jar or two.
  • A spoon or whisk.
  • A bowl.
  • A work surface. 
  • A shallow cardboard box, like a pizza or bakery box. 

We hope you can join us! 

Warm regards,


Erik Baard
Executive Director

Newtown Creek Bath Bombs!


Housebound by COVID-19 and missing your estuary? HarborLAB has you covered, from head to toe, with our Newtown Creek bath bombs! Soak and sooth your pandemic worries away in a truly authentic New York City kayaker way!

Each 6.66 oz ball is made from what biologist John Waldman describes as “black mayonnaise,” a viscous sedimentary silt infused with invigorating industrial toxins, petroleum, and a vital culture of anaerobic bacteria. Guaranteed to dissolve your stress along with your limbs.

Newtown Creek bath bombs are a sustainable product. If used during a rainstorm in lower Manhattan or North Brooklyn, your bath water returns to Newtown Creek along with flushed toilets, street runoffs, and all other wastewater in combined sewer overflows.

Even if you’re not a paddler, you can experience the tingle enjoyed by kayakers and canoeists who capsize while clearing plastic trash or seeding oysters in our local Superfund site!

Order yours today by clicking HERE!

Hope in a Time of COVID-19.

Dear Friends, When the first humans arrived in what is today New York City, there was no East River and mastodons still squelched about in the swamps of Hunters Point. We’ve prospered through change, challenge, and yes, a bit of … Continue reading

January 10: Seedball Making!



We’ll have two events for local youth in LIC on Friday, Jan 10. One is at a school at 10am and the next at a youth service organization at 230pm. If you’d like to assist, please register via the form linked and you’ll receive details.

We’ll have a family event, open to the public, later this season. Please stay tuned.

Register here (a Facebook click isn’t registration):

Shareable link:

Our fun work will help green and strengthen NYC shorelines in 2020 with Little Bluestem, Joe Pye, Goldenrod, and Milkweed seeds gathered by HarborLAB volunteers and local students.

Seedballs are simple to make and contribute to STEM education through service. We just mix natural clay powder, compost or potting soil, seeds, and water into a cookie dough-like consistency. Then we roll the “dough” into penny-wide balls and place them in a single layer in a pizza box or other similarly wide and shallow box.

PLEASE help clean up.

9/29: Voyage to South Brother Island!



Photo by NYC Audubon.

Paddle through Hell Gate, clean and seed a normally forbidden island, and visit a gorgeous park in the South Bronx for lunch! By special permission by the Natural Resources Group of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, HarborLAB tends to this precious Harbor Heron Refuge each year. We gather plastics, seed native plants (our earlier years’ seaside goldenrod is thriving!) and document life on the island.

To join, please complete this form by September 26 at 11PM:


Please understand that public seats are limited (8) and the trip requires strict adherence to instructions from HarborLAB for safety and NYC Parks’ for wildlife conservation.

This event is free. Age minimum is 14, with significant paddling experience and an accompanying parent or guardian.

The shareable promotional page for our crew is:

This trip is FREE. Tax deductible donations to HarborLAB are gratefully received here:

Waivers should be printed and completed before arrival. Waivers are here:

Please understand that seats are limited (8 in public fleet seats) and the trip is challenging in terms of duration and varying conditions. Participation must be approved by HarborLAB.

Because we can’t safely access the water at Vernon Blvd due to sail squatters damaging and stealing infrastructure like our dock and ladder, we’ll tow boats to and from the 2nd Street public launch.

Schedule and Float Plan

8am; Gather at HarborLAB (53-21 Vernon Blvd)
Safety talk, waivers, ready and lower boats.
830am; All boats in the water. Tow some boats to 2nd Street.
845am: Launch some paddlers from 2nd Street.
Hug Queens coast. Alert for ferries. Stay about 30′ from shore through Hell Gate, single file. Regather after Astoria power plant point.
945am: Land at South Brother Island, SE beach.
Clean beach and load boats. Seedball.
1045am: Launch for Barretto Point Park. Stay close together and beware of higher wind profile from garbage bags.
1115am: Land at Barretto Point Park. Tabulate and carry to curb.
1pm: Launch from Barretto Point Park.
3pm: Land at 2nd Street and HarborLAB. Pack away.
4pm: Done!

Please note that if we run later than 4pm our Jewish friends might have to leave in order to observe Rosh Hashanah at sunset. Let’s extend this courtesy cheerfully.

Su 29 Low 3:15 AM -0.8 6:51 AM Rise 7:38 AM 0
29 High 9:13 AM 6.1 6:42 PM Set 7:41 PM
29 Low 3:39 PM -0.7
29 High 9:31 PM 5.9

What to bring and wear:

Common sense sun protection for (hat, UV broadband sunglasses, eco-friendly sunblock), sturdy footwear you don’t mind getting wet (not flip flops), dry change of clothing, quick drying paddling clothing, full reusable water bottle (you can refill in Brooklyn, but there’s no water at HarborLAB), snacks with no plastic packaging if possible (oranges are great, or nuts in a reusable bag).

Don’t do what you feel unsafe doing. For example, our shoreline is very rough but entering and exiting the boats at 2nd Street is safer and easier.
Stay close together. Do not stray.
Listen to instructions and directions immediately and precisely. There might be safety concerns about which you’re unaware.
If you don’t feel well, are in pain, or have a condition that could affect you or the group, please inform the trip leader or a volunteer escort immediately.
Stay hydrated. Drink before you feel thirsty.

Sunday Pride Paddle for Brunch!


Photo by Erik Baard

Partner Paddle tour with Queer Scouts NYC ( to enjoy brunch in Dumbo. Pride Paddles for the LGBTQ+ community are part of HarborLAB’s mission of diversity and inclusion in STEM and enjoyment of our public waterways.

HarborLAB and Queer Scouts NYC are family-friendly groups but this open water tour of a busy waterway is for adults. All ages can join the brunch in Brooklyn! Location to be determined.

To join, please apply here:

Clicking “going” on Facebook or emailing organizers does not register you for this tour. You must apply through the above link. 

Float Plan:

930AM: Gather at HarborLAB
Safety talk and orientation, prep boats.
1030AM: All boats in the water.
11AM: Paddlers who chose to board at 2nd Street are in boats.
1230PM: Land at Pier 4 Beach in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
2PM: Launch for the return.
330PM: Return (some dropped off at 2nd Street)
4PM: Done!

Su 8 High 4:39 AM 4.2 6:30 AM Set 1:05 AM 66
8 Low 10:55 AM 0.9 7:17 PM Rise 4:25 PM
8 High 5:05 PM 4.9
8 Low 11:38 PM 0.6

Neversink Reservoir Dates!


ReservoirLAB at Neversink. Photo by Erik Baard

Welcome to the new school year!

To help students learn about their drinking water, HarborLAB maintains a second boat fleet on the Neversink Reservoir in the Catskill Mountains. This FREE program of educational paddling tours on pristine mountain water, called ReservoirLAB, is the result of a unique partnership between HarborLAB, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and is supported by Catskill Watershed Corporation.

The dates we can offer in 2019 are:

Sept 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30

Oct 5, 6, 7, 12, 13

Our educational programs are free but we can’t provide transportation or meals.

If you’d like to visit with your school class, youth group, or community center, please email us at



Lap the World’s Most Exciting Island!

Up for adventure?

2019 HarborLAB

Manhattan Circumnavigation!


East River paddling. Photo by Laura Picallo.

Set a course for adventure on Saturday, August 31! It’s time for HarborLAB’s annual Manhattan Circumnavigation! This is our biggest chance to thank volunteers for their hard work (especially given the difficult conditions caused by sailboat squatters at Vernon Blvd and your patience as we work toward relocation of our boats to 2nd Street) and to strengthen relationships with fellow environmental groups and supporters. 

Newer volunteers will be considered. The form linked below gives you the chance to let us know how you’ll be contributing to HarborLAB’s success going forward. 

Apply to join with this form:

Also included in the form are:

  • Scheduling and float plan details.
  • Safety notes and what to wear and bring.
  • .Ways to join without paddling the full length.