Monday, November 29, 2010

Whole Foods Brooklyn Store to Have Green Features

Whole Foods is now officially moving to Brooklyn — on Third Avenue and Third Street in Gowanus, with groundbreaking expected in 2012 — and the project is planned to have several green elements. 

According to a statement issued by the company, the store will feature parking for energy-efficient vehicles, as well as specially designated recharging stations for electric powered vehicles. The parking lot will include bike parking in front of the store and along a pedestrian promenade. 

Most excitingly, there will be a 20,000-square-foot rooftop greenhouse that will grow fresh, organic produce onsite.

Pictured here is an architect's rendering of the planned Whole Foods.

Rendering courtesy Whole Foods

Monday, November 22, 2010

Get a Living Holiday Tree This Season

Williamsburg florist Rose Red & Lavender, owned by Kimberly Sevilla (who was given an award for green entrepreneurship last year around this time), has begun offering living holiday trees in addition to their regular selection of fresh cut trees.

After the holidays are over, instead of discarding the tree, a living tree can be planted outside, either in a planter or in the ground. Rose Red & Lavender is offering a 30 percent discount for those who don't have access to outdoor space and would rather return the tree.

You can choose between a Boxwood Pyramid, a Baby Blue Spruce and a Big Blue Spruce. To reserve your living tree, call (718) 486-3569 or email

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference at Brooklyn College

This Friday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 21, Brooklyn College will host the first annual Black Farms and Urban Gardeners Conference, The nation's first conference to address the issues of food, farming and policy solutions for the black community. Farmers, gardeners, activists, students and community leaders from across the nation will come to Brooklyn.

Most conference events will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with a fundraiser on Friday. Workshop topics include: resources for rural and urban farmers, linkages between upstate farms and downstate food desert communities, training the next generation of urban farmers and undoing racism in the food system.

For a full conference schedule and information on how to register, visit

Monday, November 15, 2010

Project LeafDrop Collects Leaves From NYC Residents for Composting

Two years ago, due to budget cuts, New York City stopped collecting leaves separate from garbage. In response, a Park Slope community garden called 6/15 Green decided to expand its already large composting center to accept leaves from non-members, in order to divert those leaves from the landfills. That year the garden collected one-and-a-half tons of leaves.

Last year 6/15 Green teamed up with 23 other community gardens, botanical gardens, greening groups, environmental organizations, City agencies and community partners to form NYCLeaves, and together they created Project LeafDrop, a mission to reduce organic material in the city’s wastestream. Over eight tons of leaves were brought to Project LeafDrop sites and turned into compost and mulch for garden beds and street trees.

This year Project LeafDrop is back, with participating sites across the city. In Brooklyn, sites stretch from Williamsburg to Kensington/Ditmas Park, Sunset Park to East New York. Neighborhood residents are welcome to bring their leaves in clear plastic bags without twigs or trash to participating locations on specific dates. To find information on times and locations, view an interactive map here

Pictured above is a 2008 photo of the three-bin compost system at 6/15 Green Community Garden in Park Slope.

Benefit for Green Theatre Collective Tomorrow

Tomorrow night the Green Theatre Collective (GCT), a Brooklyn-based theater group that uses minimal resources to perform in natural environments, will hold a benefit for its inaugural season. The benefit will be at Pianos NYC at 158 Ludlow St. in the Lower East Side of Manhattan from 7 to 10 p.m.

Attendees will hear live music from Reuben Chess of the band Quintus, Acoustic Electra and Sara Banleigh, and sample baked goods from Monicakes Bakery. The show will start at 8 p.m.

Suggested donation is $10, which will go to GCT’s production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, slated for summer 2011. For more information, visit

The Green Theatre Collective is founded by Windsor Terrace resident Hal Fickett. Read my story about it here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Green Dry Cleaner in DUMBO, Cobble Hill

Recently I met with Ken Kinzer (above), a dry cleaner who has locations on Front Street in DUMBO and Court Street in Cobble Hill. After telling me about GreenEarth Cleaning, one of the methods he uses to dry clean — the other is wet cleaning, which simulates hand washing — I told him about a memory I have from when I was younger and got a sweater back from the cleaners. I smelled it, wanting to snuggle into my nice clean sweater, but I was immediately confronted by the most horrific chemical smell.

The smell was most likely perchloroethlyene (perc), a technically organic compound used by most dry cleaners. It's also a carcinogen. Kinzer's method, GreenEarth Cleaning uses silicone to clean clothes and it doesn't leave a smell.

“It’s safe for the clothes, it’s safe for the customer, it’s safe for the environment,” he said.

Read my story about Kinzer and his dry cleaning plants here.

The Million Pound Challenge: NYC Recycles Clothes to Reach Goal

Back in September GrowNYC — a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs — launched The Million Pound Challenge. This challenge calls on New Yorkers to bring unwanted or worn out clothes to eight weekly drop-off sites, with the goal of reaching the million pound mark by Dec. 31. Instead of going to waste, materials are sorted and redistributed to secondhand clothing markets, rag makers and fiber recyclers. So far, 830,000 pounds of textiles have been collected.

“When the City published the findings of its comprehensive Waste Characterization Study in 2006 we were shocked to see that 6 percent of our waste consists of textiles — this is after residents have sifted out items to donate to their favorite charities,” said GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. “There is no easier way to reduce this figure than to add textiles to your recycling routine. Our collections are unique in that we’ll take all of your clean, dry, unwanted textiles.  Now there’s a solution for what to do with those bleach-stained towels.”

Each ton of material kept out of the trash represents a savings to taxpayers, who foot the bill for sending discards to out of state landfills. Visit the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn to drop off textiles for recycling.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Weeks 7 and 8: Fall Fun

Well readers, it happens to the best of us: I've fallen off the blog train, as I have in the past and probably will again. But I really have been going to the GAP Greenmarket (though we did miss two weeks due to yet more weddings).

On Oct. 23, we stopped by on the way to a pumpkin carving gathering at Lowlands Bar in Gowanus, in the hopes of getting a pumpkin. Not only did we get a regular pumpkin, we also got two mini pumpkins for decorating and some ornamental corn, all from Lebak Farm (Burlington County, NJ). We got a bunch of Fuji apples and — because it's my favorite fall vegetable — butternut squash from Phillips Farms (Hunterdon County, NJ).

We harvested the guts of the pumpkin, then separated the seeds from the core. We used the core to brew a Brooklyn Brewshop Pumpkin Dubbel beer — by roasting the pumpkin with brown sugar and adding the mixture to the mash and the boil — and I toasted the seeds up with some salt using this recipe. The seeds made a delicious snack while brewing and for several days after. The beer is still fermenting; we'll bottle in the coming week. (You can read about our progress on our blog, How's that for some shameless self-promotion?)

I roasted the squash with some butter and cinnamon, then mashed it. As for the apples, they were great on their own, or also paired with some leftover Lynnhaven goat cheese and drizzled with honey from Brooklyn bees (which I purchased at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's "Bee Day" celebration back in June). Totally local and totally delicious.

This past Saturday (Oct. 30) we were back at the market, stocking up on another butternut squash from Phillips Farms — I can't be without it for too long during the season — and some spinach, garlic and green beans from Cedar Hill Farm/Kernan Farms (Cumberland County, NJ). We also got broccoli rabe from Evolutionary Organics (Ulster County, NY), which we blanched and sauteed, then added to orecchiette and topped it with shaved grana padano cheese, for a lovely Italian-inspired meal. We also snapped up some grapes from Buzzard Crest Vineyards (Yates County, NY).

Of course, I couldn't leave without a non-food item. I kept seeing people with these large bunches of green leafy flower-looking things, so I investigated Lebak Farm's stand. It was eucalyptus, and I had to get some. The bunch was so big I had to split it into two vases (and my hands got pretty sticky handling it), but it's gorgeous, and it smells great in our apartment.

The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket, founded in 1989, is GrowNYC's flagship Brooklyn market and is its second largest market behind Union Square.

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 6: Poor Planning
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 5: Adjusting Expectations
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 4: Change of Plans
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 3: On the Road
Fabulous Fresh Finds: Week 2
New Blog Feature: Fabulous Fresh Finds