Seedball Making at LaGuardia Community College!


Seedballs. Photo by Maureen Regan, president and founder of Green Earth Urban Gardens.

Hurricane Sandy, pollution, and development have stripped away much of our dune and coastal meadow habitats, so HarborLAB is joining the effort to restore them! To this end, HarborLAB and other conservationists are following Permaculture farmers in adopting an ancient Japanese and North American no-till agriculture tool that mimics the natural dung distribution of seeds (called endozoochory). It’s simple: make a ball of clay, compost, and seeds and toss them over the area to be revived. The warmth and rains of spring and summer then signal the seeds to germinate. Before long we’ll green the shores of NYC by bombarding them with seed love from our armada of kayaks and canoes!  😉

HarborLAB volunteers learned the art from SeedBall NYC‘s Co-founder and President Anne Apparu in a room made available to us by Dr. Sarah Durand of the Natural Sciences department at CUNY LaGuardia Community College. We made several hundred seed balls, and will make thousands more! The trick is to get the proportions right so that the balls hold together firmly but dry out before the seeds germinate. In terms of consistency, think cookie dough.

Another great instruction resource comes from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

HarborLAB used seeds we gathered with Hunters Point Community Middle School and Dr. Stephen Grosnell‘s Baruch College conservation biology students from Gantry Plaza State Park, Hunters Point Park, and our own GreenLaunch, along with seeds provided by SeedBall NYC and Briermere Farms. Hunters Point Parks Conservancy Vice President Mark Christie kindly help guide us in our seed gathering. Species included aster, milkweed, beach plum, beach pea, goldenrod, viburnum, pine, switchgrass, pokeberry, and the humorously named panicgrass (gallery below). These salt-tolerant species support endangered monarch butterflies and other pollinators, and feed birds. They also stabilize the shoreline, allowing complex ecosystems to develop while also protecting property from surges and erosion. We also gathered beach rose from Hunters Point South Park but must be very careful about where to use them, if at all, for biological productivity without enabling invasion.

See Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman‘s great write up of one of our outings at Queens Brownstoner.

We’re also grateful to Maureen Regan, president and founder of Green Earth Urban Gardens for participating and to Gil Lopez, president and co-founder of Smiling Hogshead Ranch Urban Farm, for inviting a naturalist to join us. We also thank the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation for permission to gather seeds. An especially welcome newcomer was Philip Anthony Borbon, a sailor who moors on the Queens waterfront of the Newtown Creek.

Our next step is to go into classrooms to make seedballs with kids, and to then bring the balls with us when we paddle to areas in need of habitat restoration! If you’d like a classroom talk and seedball making activity with HarborLAB, please email us at!

Hackensack Bushwhack!

The launch is quite close to the Hackensack Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Area.

The launch is quite close to the Hackensack Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Area.

Join HarborLAB on the wild frontier of New Jersey!   😉

HarborLAB will paddle the beautiful and recovering river called Hackensack, from the Lenape word Achinigeu-hach, or Ackingsah-sack, “meaning flat confluence of streams.” More about the waterway from the indefatigable Hackensack Riverkeeper (  Our thanks to Extended Stay America hotel for trailer parking and launch access.  The launch is near the Hackensack Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Area.

We would welcome the public the Hackensack Riverkeeper serves to join us, and its staff or members, and for others from outside the area to join the exploration. Total capacity of 20, with volunteers and students getting priority. We might be able to offer some rides, and our boat trailer might have capacity for private boats. Wesley Miller will coordinate the trailer loading.

Email with the subject line “Hackensack Bushwhack” if you’d like to participate.
Please fill out and bring a waiver ahead of time if possible. Also join our Facebook event page.


Photo by Paul Baker.

This will be a casual paddle to explore, learn, and enjoy each other’s company. Paul Baker will lead this trip and sets its final schedule.  We aim for high water so the ramp is less muddy.

Tides for North Secaucus, Garretts Reach starting with August 24, 2013.

Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
           /Low      Time    Feet    Sunset                    Visible

Sa  24      Low   6:14 AM    -0.5   6:16 AM     Set 10:14 AM      90
    24     High  12:28 PM     6.8   7:41 PM    Rise  9:31 PM
    24      Low   6:44 PM     0.1

Photo by Paul Baker.