This abandoned lot on the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue will become one of the first properties to be redeveloped under the nation's only municipal brownfield program. Though suspected contamination in the soil has kept it empty for decades, it is not considered polluted enough for the state or U.S. EPA to manage. Photo by Nathanial Gronewold.
Dawn Philip at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest says opportunities are almost endless.
"New York City is one big brownfield," she said. "The lack of clean, cheap land in this city is kind of amazing. ... There's just not a lot of open space, and there's not a lot of clean open space."
This article is about known brownfields in New York City. The even larger problem is the untested, undiscovered contaminated soil that lies in back and front yards all across the city along with guerilla gardening vacant lots. It is truly the dirty secret of urban life in many cities across America, Eastern cities like New York in particular.
It is rather obvious that the urban gardening folks do not want to talk about it. Today is the last day of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and I have yet to read a post or article about it in a gardening, horticulture or local food publication.
It is well documented that women populate most of these organizations in the majority, many of them mothers of small children. One wonders what they are thinking when they glorify gardening without informing the public about the health risks of growing food in contaminated city dirt.
The solutions are obvious. Get a toxic metals soil test before growing edible plants in the ground. Better yet, grow them in highly productive, water saving sub-irrigated planters known widely as SIPs. The EarthBox, City Pickers (Home Depot), Garden Patch Grow Box and Tomato Success Kit from Gardener's Supply are examples of consumer SIP products but they are easy to make.
Thanks to our antiquated horticultural education, it is not widely known that you can even convert tradtional raised beds into SIPs.
Liberty Hyde Bailey, who many consider the father of American horticulture made sub-irrigated raised beds more than a hundred years ago. Contrary to what our gardening media says, this is not new technology. It is only new if you don't know the history of horticulture and sub-irrgation.
NEW YORK -- The city this summer enthusiastically rolled out what its promoters say is the nation's only municipally led brownfield cleanup program.
But few developers have jumped to participate in the effort to reclaim abandoned industrial and commercial property.
Daniel Walsh, who directs the city's new Office of Environmental Remediation (OER), isn't fretting about the program's slow start, saying it is only natural that a pioneering effort would require upfront time and work.