By Lisa Kava
Riverside Park Conservancy has announced the launch of a new park-wide composting initiative in honor of Earth Day, celebrated on Saturday, April 22. Compost will be created from plant debris, leaves, and clippings collected by Conservancy staff and volunteers, in a new state-of-the-art “Compost Compound,” located at 95th Street adjacent to the West Side Highway. This material gathered from the park had previously ended up in landfills to the detriment of the environment. The Compost Compound will also enable fresh compost and wood chips needed for park operations to be created in the park rather than purchased from outside.
Construction on the new facility, which began in 2022 and is being funded by a private donor, is still underway. But some initial compost operations began this past winter, a Riverside Park Conservancy representative emailed the Rag. Full-scale composting work is expected to start in May when construction is finished. In preparation, Riverside Conservancy staff members are being trained specifically on how to create compost. The Conservancy plans to add a dedicated Compost Education Coordinator to its staff who will be on site at the Compost Compound.
“In examining our current practices and facilities, we saw a tremendous opportunity to reduce the amount of organic material we are sending to landfills where it fails to decompose properly,” said Merritt Birnbaum, President & CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy. “Our goal is to disrupt the waste cycle by turning our yard waste into nutrient-rich compost right here in the park and using it to nourish our landscapes. We want to promote Mother Nature’s own system for turning plants into soil and destigmatize the perception of composting as unnatural or unclean. Our hope is to be a model for yet another way that public parks can contribute to a greener, healthier city.”
“Our hope is to be a model for yet another way that public parks can contribute to a greener, healthier city.”
Riverside Park Conservancy partners with the New York City Parks Department to care for and maintain five parks: Riverside Park, Riverside Park South, Sakura Park, West Harlem Piers Park, and the shoreline portion of Fort Washington Park up to 181st Street. Plant debris, leaves and clippings from all of these parks will be brought to the Compost Compound.
The Conservancy has also announced a compost education program — a four-part lecture series that will take place at the 102nd Street Field House in Riverside Park. The talks, which are free and open to the public, will focus on the intersections of soil health and environmental justice. Environmental experts with diverse backgrounds will be leading the lectures.
The first lecture will take place on Earth Day, Saturday April 22, at 10 AM. You can register here. For a full schedule of the upcoming lectures click here. To learn more about Riverside Park Conservancy’s new composting initiative click here.