Compost heaven

They ripped up a parking lot and but in a paradise!

Am empty lot at the corner of East Eighth Street and Newkirk Avenue in Kensington most recently used to park cars is slowly being transformed into a supposedly environmentally friendly compost pile and garden featuring plants native to Brooklyn.

There, Compost for Brooklyn founders Louise Bruce and Matthew Burke envision and space where residents can drop off garbage capable of breaking down quickly in the pile — thus saving the city money on haul-away costs while creating a small oasis for local fauna.

According to Bruce and Burke, composting reduces the burden on the city’s Department of Sanitation (which normally would pick up the trash), while turning garbage into something beneficial to the environment. If everyone in the city composted, Bruce claims, nearly 30 percent of the trash that the city pays to ship out could be replanted. The more the city composts, the more the financial cost and the burden on the environment can be reduced.

The focus on native plants will aid native pollinators, including birds, butterflies and bees, said Bruce. Since such fauna do not travel large distances, the creation of small green spaces throughout the city effectively creates “little green highways for the bees and butterflies,” she said.

But don’t call it a garbage dump, they say.

“We don’t want people to be living next to a landfill,” said Burke. “That’s why we decided that a huge component had to be aesthetic.”

Bruce had eyed the lot for months before tracking down its owner, a Park Slope physician, who agreed to let her and Burke use it for two years — and possibly longer — if he is happy with what is done there.

Work began in the garden this spring, with the planting of trees and a single flower bed. Soon, residents began stopping by to say thank-you, or drop off seeds and cuttings, as well as chairs and lumber, to help the beautification process, said Bruce.

Within a few months, Bruce says the garden will be ready to accept dropped-off compostable matter.

Once the compost is found to be suitable for use as fertilizer, the garden will also be ready to start distributing the black gold it produces to the public to help grow gardens across the five boroughs, according to Bruce.

“It’s really been inspiring to me,” said Bruce, who works in the garden every day. “I’ve gone from being totally new to New York to knowing most of my neighbors’ names. It’s really incredible how a project like this can really bring the community together.”

For further information, or to donate to the project, log onto www.compostforbrooklyn.org.

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