Urban Garden Center has been a fixture of Spanish Harlem since the 1950’s, and today their beautiful shop occupies a massive two-block stretch along Park Avenue in the historic La Marqueta. We interviewed third-generation owner Dimitri Gatanas earlier this year to discuss spring plants, and now we’re back to discuss the plants that make the holiday season special. We’ll take a virtual tour of their seasonally-decorated space, learn about Christmas trees and other holiday plants (plus share tips on maintaining them), and discuss how this holiday season will be different from any other.
Potatoes are a staple of the American diet, and a lot of them grow within commuting distance of New York City. On this program, we will connect with Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where Bob Leiby, an agronomist for the Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers, joins us to discuss what goes into producing potatoes, the challenges of climate change, and new potato varieties and farming techniques under development to meet the challenges of today and the future. Bob Leiby spent his lifetime studying potatoes, raising his first crop as a 10-year-old 4-H member. He received his BS in Agronomy from Delaware Valley College and his Master’s from Penn State studying population dynamics of the Colorado Potato Beetle. He worked for Penn State Extension as a County Agricultural Agent for 36 years. At Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers, he continues to test new potato varieties and growing techniques, and he has also traveled to China and Kyrgyzstan to work on potato issues.
Join us for a virtual exploration of Prospect Park’s waterways. We will look closely at the ingenious drainage system and chain of manmade streams and ponds that terminate in Brooklyn’s largest lake, follow the park’s scenic watercourse, and go inside one of the most unique features of the park: the 1869 Wellhouse, the park’s last remaining building by park designer Calvert Vaux, which once housed the machinery that fueled the watercourse and was recently restored by the Prospect Park Alliance and converted into the first composting restrooms in a NYC park.
As New Yorkers are riding their bicycles more than ever, new Brooklyn-based nonprofit Adapt Ability is on a mission to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy cycling in the city’s parks and streets. During this virtual program, we will interview Sunset Park entrepreneur Sandra Alfonzo about her journey from being a bicycle shop owner to running a nonprofit that makes and rents adaptive bicycles to children and adults with disabilities. We’ll also go live to Michael Cairl (check out his blog On Foot, On Wheels) in Prospect Park to see the trike he uses from AdaptAbility in action and to hear about his experience transitioning to adaptive cycling.
Celebrate Climate Week NYC and learn how climate change has affected Prospect Park and other natural areas in New York City and the projections for the future, including how Prospect Park Alliance and the Natural Areas Conservancy is using the best available science to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and preserve our urban forests. We will again be joined by Prospect Park Alliance forest ecologist Howard Goldstein and Natural Areas Conservancy’s Justin Bowers, program manager for Natural Areas Restoration and the creator of Forest Identification and Restoration Selection Tool (FIRST), which helps forest restoration practitioners manage for and adapt to geographic and climate conditions.
Like many cities around the world, New York City is facing the reality of climate change and its severe impacts on the urban environment. In Lower Manhattan, high tides with sea level rise are projected to flood multiple city blocks on regular basis in this generation. If we don’t take action, climate threats to this area will put our transit system, critical infrastructure and jobs serving all of New York City and the region at risk. On this virtual walk with the NYCEDC, we’ll explore how the City is taking action by investing over $500 million in climate adaptation projects to protect Lower Manhattan now, as well as planning for long-term climate adaptation to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The program will discuss Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency and the investments happening now, as well as the ongoing planning work to define the right type of infrastructure needed for the Financial District and Seaport neighborhoods and study the potential to extend the existing shoreline. Much work is still left to be done, and public engagement is critical to ensuring a successful plan to adapt these neighborhoods for current and future generations of New Yorkers.
Learn how Prospect Park restores and manages habitat for pollinator conservation, why invertebrates are so important to Brooklyn, how managers choose plants, why native plants are critical to pollinator survival, and how anyone with a little bit of space can plant a pollinator-friendly native garden. We will again be joined by Prospect Park Alliance forest ecologist Howard Goldstein.
Ever since she was a little girl growing up in China’s Hubei Province, Gina Gao has been collecting medicinal herbs, inspired by family traditions and by growing up in the same small town as Li Shizhen, a renowned 16th-century physician and botanist. Each month, she will host a virtual program to show some of the herbs that might be growing in your backyard right here in NYC, share how to dry and prepare them, and discuss their histories and uses in traditional Chinese medicine. In this first program, Gina will tell us about the medicinal properties, preparation and use of mugwort, a valuable and cultivated plant in China that is considered a troublesome invasive plant in New York.
Get to know the trees of Prospect Park! Prospect Park Alliance forest ecologist Howard Goldstein joins us again for a discussion about the 30,000 trees of the park. We will look at common native and invasive tree species (and how to recognize them), the different forest types in the park, why some of our native trees are so valuable to wildlife, some unusual and less common trees, and how the Prospect Park Alliance manages Brooklyn’s last forest.
Join our conversation with Sara Carr, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and Landscape at Northeastern University, who will discuss Frederick Law Olmsted’s origins in public health, and how his background in the US Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, and his journalistic advocacy inspired his designs of Central Park and Prospect Park. Olmsted’s prolific writings give us an insight into how he thought about the intersection of human, ecological, and societal health, which resonate strongly in our pandemic era. But as his living legacies face unprecedented urban challenges, we must also think about how they can sustain and at times even transform for a just and sustainable future. This program is presented in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance.