Soil test results

We received soil test results last month from the Environmental Sciences Analytical Center at Brooklyn College and have finally gotten some information about what the results mean for our community garden.

You can see the lab report here. And you can read the Center’s guidelines for how to interpret the test results here.

So what does it all mean?

First of all, heavy metals are naturally-occurring elements, present in all soil. But in cities, the accumulation of heavy metals is more pronounced — primarily from car exhaust. After particles are released into the air, they always settle back down into the ground.

Second, ingesting heavy metals is to be avoided — especially for pregnant women and children (that’s why families need to be careful about chipped lead paint in their homes). Being exposed to too much of one metal can lead to health problems, but with some simple precaution it is unlikely you will be exposed to unhealthy levels.

One of our gardeners forwarded a link from the University of Minnesota with some very useful information about lead in urban gardens.

The results for the soil in our new garden show average levels of heavy metals for New York City. And the level of lead, even though average for the city, require some precautions. Because plants do not take up significant quantities of heavy metals, the real danger is ingesting the soil itself, so you should wear gloves when working in the garden, or wash your hands afterwards. Anything edible that you harvest should be washed thoroughly. (If you are particularly nervous about all these numbers, you will probably decide to not eat any root vegetables or leafy greens from the garden.)

Probably the best piece of advice is suitable for young children, whether they are in the garden or just sitting on a piece of earth anywhere in the city: don’t eat the dirt.

If our community garden is to grow and thrive with edible harvests we can all feel are safe, we should probably consider constructing raised beds next year filled with uncontaminated, organic soil. Such a project would of course require some work and money. A composting program for the garden would contribute to the health and maintenance of the soil. Gardeners who feel strongly about these issues should be ready to contribute to this effort, and lobby the Board of Directors for assistance.

Composting Program Draws Interest

There’s no cooperative composting program in the works — but maybe based on our results from last month’s cooperative question there should be. Seventy-eight percent of our respondents indicated interest in participating, while 22% said “No way.”

Hillman has had a successful composting program in their garden for several years, but there’s never been a major push to compost here at East River. Maybe after our garden establishes itself (and with these survey results as encouragement) more cooperators will start making plans to reduce our waste and cut down on some landscaping costs by starting a serious composting initiative?

Nice! Courtyard can stay open on weekends

Some ALL CAPS good news just emailed out —

JULY 2, 2012
TO: ALL COOPERATORS/ EAST RIVER HOUSING
FROM: LEONARD GREHER, PRESIDENT, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
RE: PARK REOPENED FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY

DEAR COOPERATORS,

WE HAVE GOOD NEWS.

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS WOULD LIKE TO ANNOUNCE THAT MANAGEMENT HAS SUCCESSFULLY SECURED A VARIANCE FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS FOR THE PARK BETWEEN BUILDINGS 3 & 4 TO BE REOPENED ON WEEKENDS.

THE VARIANCE WILL BE FROM FRIDAY AT 8PM UNTIL SUNDAY AT MIDNIGHT EVERY WEEKEND UNTIL THE LOCAL LAW 11 CONTRACT IS COMPLETED.

ENJOY THE PARK!

Are you getting email alerts from Management? If not, you can sign up for them right here.

Report: Muggings in East River Park

From DNA Info:

A series of muggings in East River Park has contributed to a 13 percent increase in crime on the Lower East Side.

There have been 62 robberies this year on the Lower East Side, compared to about 50 at this time last year. There’s also been an increase in car theft, according to Capt. Peter Venice from the 7th Precinct.

At a community council meeting Wednesday, Venice encouraged residents to be alert, especially in the East River Park after dark.

“It is quiet over there,” he told a packed community council meeting. “It can get desolate at night.”
The latest of three muggings occurred on May 22nd with the other two happening earlier in the month. All took place between 9 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

In each attack, the suspect was described as a 30- to 35-year-old man who wore a hooded sweatshirt, according to Venice.

The suspect either simulated having a gun or, on one occasion, showed a gun during the robbery before taking cash and valuables from victims.

In response to the crimes, the 7th Precinct has stepped up patrols in the park.

A “handful” of similar crimes have occurred north of East Houston Street in the park, which comes under the 9th Precinct’s command, Venice said.

What do you think? Are you ever in East River Park after dark?

Cooperators overwhelmingly in favor of new no-smoking rules

Last month we inaugurated our Cooperative Question of the Month with (it turned out) a gimme. Following the announcement from the Board of Directors of a new no-smoking policy in the common areas outside our buildings, we asked whether cooperators thought the new rules were appropriate or too harsh. Over 90% of you agreed with the new rules, with just a few people thinking they had gone too far.

The final tally was 29 in favor, 3 against. That’s not exactly a huge sample size, and may not hold up to the standards of professional pollsters; but considering it was our first time soliciting opinions, it’s encouraging that we were able to get any sense at all of how cooperators feel about life at East River Coop.

We’ll have a new question posted soon in the laundry rooms and right on the front page of this site. Spread the word and come back to vote!

Bees all gone? Not so fast

Despite the memo earlier this week assuring us that the bees behind building 2 had all moved on, bees continue to have a large presence in a tree right in the middle of the playground.

It turns out this isn’t really as dangerous as it looks. Apparently it’s common in the spring for a hive’s second queen bee to leave the hive with some percentage of worker bees and drones to look for a place to build a new hive. These bees will swarm, usually huddling around a tree branch or something similar, while scouts are sent out looking for an appropriate tree hollow or other protected area. During this time, the bees have no food or young to protect, so are very unlikely to exhibit any defensive behavior — i.e., they’re probably not going to sting anyone.

Nevertheless, having the swarm right in the middle of he playground is obviously not ideal. And since those bees are actually very valuable, it’s easy to find a beekeeper willing to come lure the swarm away. (In fact, it looks like that’s what’s happening down there right now.)