Recently, on February 24, 2021, WHSAD announced that we won the DOE Sustainability grant with Newtown Creek Alliance, a community-based organization. For those who are unfamiliar with Newtown Creek Alliance, this organization’s mission is to restore, reveal, and revitalize community health, water quality, habitat, access, and vibrant commerce along Newtown Creek. This grant will help WHSAD beautify the Van Arsdale campus building perimeter by adding a lot more greenery. Newtown Creek Alliance, or NCA, works to “Reveal” by conducting tours that educate the public about the history of the waterway at Newtown Creek. NCA “Restores” the Creek by supporting green infrastructure investments, bioremediation, and habitat restoration, just to name a few ways. And lastly, NCA “Revitalizes” the creek by engaging in workforce development to create local green jobs, creating programs that improve the environmental profiles of industrial businesses, and being in a leadership role in brownfield redevelopment planning. WHSAD’s partnership with NCA has and will continue undoubtedly to help WHSAD, and its students, for the better.
On Friday, March 5th, Lisa Bloodgood, the Director of Advocacy and Education for Newtown Creek Alliance, joined WHSAD’s Makerspace session to help give some insight and advice to some of the Makerspace teams who are working on design projects. My team and I were lucky enough to present our design concepts to Lisa Bloodgood and receive her advice. Being that we have plans to redesign and beautify a vacant lot into a flower garden, Lisa gave us her input on how to improve it. One key piece of advice she gave us was her suggestions on what flowers to incorporate into our design. Lisa Bloodgood made it clear that using flowers that are native to the Staten Island area, where the vacant lot is located, is the best option and she even suggested we use plants and flowers such as Azaleas and other native perennial flowers. Ms. Bloodgood also advised my team members and me to use a walkway that isn’t narrow and right in the middle of the vacant lot, to help reduce heavy traffic flow, and to use rainwater, if a water source isn’t nearby, to water the plants. Lisa Bloodgood’s critiques and suggestions helped my team and me tremendously with her advice on how to effectively and creatively design our space.
Sonia Gonzalez, WHSAD Senior
Friday’s presentation, given to us by Lisa Bloodgood, gave me & my team a lot of good information for our community garden plans. Lisa Bloodgood, who is the Director of Education and Advocacy for Newtown Creek Alliance, started working with WHSAD around the year, 2011. Newtown Creek Alliance is an environmental, non-profit, organization. Part of the work Lisa Bloodgood does is bring restoration and opportunities for ecological habitats. She is always looking for places to build or restore anything that is natural, as she referred to herself as a “big plant nerd”. My team and I showed our plan and design concept for the Vacant Lot Beautification, and what we have so far. That way, Ms. Bloodgood could give us some of her input to help us for the betterment of our designs. My team and I asked Ms. Bloodgood if she had an idea on what type of plants we should grow in the wintertime. She advised us to first identify whether the vacant lot gets full-time sun or if there is little to no sun at all. The vacant lot is in a residential area; therefore it should get about 6 hours of sun a day which is full-time sunlight. Lisa told us since there is enough sunlight in this area we can pretty much grow anything we wanted to. These plants, called perennial plants, are a type that Lisa told us she likes to try and implement in her own garden called La Casita Verde because these plants come back year after year as opposed to annuals that you have to plant every season. This piece of advice she gave us really stuck with me because my team members and I can use these perennial types of plants in our garden area on the lot so we have a good type of flow with plants that grow back yearly rather than replanting every season. These perennial types of plants also produce food such as blueberry bushes or blackberry bushes which do grow on vines with thorns so we will have to keep in mind to keep these bushes out of the way of our open areas. Overall I found the information Lisa gave us really helpful to The Vacant Lot’s future plans.
Ryan Singh, WHSAD Senior
The presentation from Lisa Bloodgood was truly informative and beneficial for my group’s project. Being that our project is focused on a gardening area that includes plants and insects, the information she provided was extremely helpful for us to determine our next steps for our design. She gave us advice on what plants to mix with each other for example mint and strawberries. She also told us what plants grow back after winters such as strawberry plants and the entire mint family. Furthermore, she gave us different methods to implement in our gardens such as adding buckets with pellets that kill mosquitoes but are healthy for the environment and people. She also advised us to not add ladybugs as the New York ladybug is close to extinction and the purchase of foreign ladybugs is responsible for this. She also informed us to not use any pesticides to kill animals because that will only harm our plants, soil, water, and food.
We will use the tips and information she provided in the presentation in our vacant lot design. For example, we will make sure to use the plants that she recommended to grow in the winter and together. This is because it would help the overall aesthetic of the garden in all seasons as well as keep it healthy and strong. We will also use the maintenance tips she stated because that will help keep our garden in the best condition possible for a long period of time. Overall, this presentation was extremely helpful as I learned a lot of important information for not only my personal garden at home but for the vacant lot garden, my group and I are designing.
Justin Hunter, WHSAD Senior
Lisa Bloodgood has a background in community advocacy and local government. Her work specializes on community science-based research rooted in ecology, biodiversity, remediation and restoration. Last Friday she granted us the honor of joining us in WHSAD Makerspace to provide good information for our community garden plans. Lisa has been working with WHSAD since 2011. Lisa Bloodgood has done an environmental non profit, that work entails bringing restoration & opportunities for ecological habitats. Lisa has always looked for environmental spaces in need of restoration as she has described herself as a loving tree hugger. Our team was actually able to show our plan for the vacant lot beautification to Ms. Bloodgood and ask for her input regarding our vegetation and compost areas.
We asked Ms. Lisa Bloodgood if she had suggestions on the type of plants we would be able to grow during the harsh winter climate. The first thing she told us to do was to identify the amount of sunlight our lot is able to get during the day. We discovered that since the vacant lot is in a residential area it should be able to get about 6 hours of sun a day which is full-time sunlight. So because we have enough sunlight in this area we are actually able to grow anything we wanted to with little difficulties. Lisa recommended a type of plant called perennials, which she told us that she would like to try and implement in her own garden called “La Casita Verde” because these plants have a longer lifespan than your typical annual plant that requires you to plant every season. This information is extremely helpful as we were just struggling to determine how we would be able to maintain our Farmer’s Market during the winter and I feel like Lisa has helped us take our first step in tackling this inquiry. A pro and a con of these perennial types of plants are that they can produce food such as blueberry bushes or blackberry bushes which grow on vines with thorns. This would require us to be mindful of customers being exposed to these thorns, however, the question of what we can grow in the winter has now been answered. All in all, I find the information Lisa Bloodgood provided us with was really helpful to the development of our Mariners Garden/Farmer Market. I look forward to hearing more feedback from Lisa in the future as we begin to wrap up the designing process of our concept over the course of these next few weeks.
Mayra Gomez, WHSAD Senior
Ms. Bloodgood is the Director of Advocacy & Education at Newtown Creek Alliance who was able to advise us on how to go about our plans on the vacant lot. She was able to show us what type of plants would be the best fit for our design that it would benefit from. She mentioned how factors like the sunlight, water, and soil conditions would affect any piece of land such as the vacant lot in Staten Island. She recommended that we try to get plants that would fill up space. Lisa Bloodgood continued to mention how crucial it is to not only have appealing plants but also to be able to have plants that wouldn’t harm the surrounding residents because the lot is placed between two homes. While also mentioning the no harm plants, she also mentioned not to ruin ecosystems with too many types mixing together.
Ms. Bloodgood gave my team and me lots of relevant information on what we should do with our vacant lot, such as knowing what our main water source would be and what kind of plants would require the least amount of maintenance, and also what plants would look good together. We will take her feedback and try to plan out a functional and eye-pleasing layout for this vacant lot. Because of the seating areas, we plan on having we wanted to have something that was different and community-oriented.
Diamond Jefferson, WHSAD Senior
On March 5,2021, Lisa Bloodgood, the Director of Advocacy and Education with Newtown Creek Alliance presented in WHSAD Makerspace. She brings restoration and opportunities for ecological habitat. She’s always looking for places where she can build gardens or restore anything that’s natural. She even refers to herself as a “Plant Nerd”. My team and I are working on the beautification of a vacant lot located in Staten Island on Netherland Ave and Van Name Ave. My team and I use the Floor Planner software so we can have a visualization for the lot. The area, where the lot is located, is a residential area.
I asked Ms.Bloodgood, “What types of fruits and vegetables would she put in the wintertime?” Ms. Bloodgood asked me how much sun would the lot get and started to look at shade plants. We came up with an estimate that the area gets about 6 hours of sun. With that amount of sun, Ms. Bloodgood told me how we can plant anything. I told Ms. Bloodgood that our concept for the vacant lot is a Farmers’ market/garden and that we want the residents in the area to plant their own fruits and vegetables. Ms. Bloodgood explained to me that she likes to use perennial plants because they come annually, meaning that you would have to plant them at the beginning of every season. For example, blueberry bushes, tomatoes, and corn are perennial plants. I explained to Ms. Bloodgood that I know that some flowers do not grow well next to each other and asked her if she knew what plants grow well together. She told me about companion planting she told me the terms monocots and dicots. A dicot plant has seeds that can split into two and monocot plants only have one seed. I showed her my compost area and asked her how many square feet would she accommodate within the compost bin. Ms. Bloodgood told me at her garden called ‘La Casita Verde’ she has 6 bins 3ft wide and 3ft long. She explained they also had a static pile where they have solar panels which they plugged into a small motor, so every minute would blow 30 seconds of air, it adds oxygen so she wouldn’t have to turn it physically. The conversation Ms. Bloodgood and I held was very informative. I have no idea about gardens so when Ms.Bloodgood shared her gems I felt special. Ms. Bloodgood was very helpful to me and my team I wish to work with her in the future
Zaniyah Rose, Middle School Student
First, I learned that on vacant lot meetings there will be people that would want to sit in the shade, and others would prefer sitting in the sun. Therefore, I should add a sitting area with a gazebo, and a sitting area without. I also learned that when adding plants to the plot, I have to pay attention to plants to which some people would be allergic. Plants such as, the golden plant and other weed plants contain high volumes of pollen.
Next, I comprehended, when setting up a lot, that it’s not about what you want to add, it’s about what people are going to use it for. I also learned that I need to add things that are useful for the guests to use. Lastly, I was informed that the app Diamond Jefferson used to make her vacant plot was reliable for building. It’s a really good app for interior design and it was very descriptive.