A different garden grows in Brooklyn

September 30, 2012 by  

Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal is getting scoured by flower power. A community group, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, has come up with an ingenious way to clean canal waters while also providing habitat for small fish, crabs and birds.

Enlisting the aid of Brooklyn residents, the Conservancy has launched an aptly named project, ‘Floating Gardens’, that involves plastic water bottles, plants and ties. Five water bottles are laced together at their tops using the ties in a flower design. Spartina alternirolra plants are placed on the bottles to create a tiny garden that can be suspended in water. Each small oasis is held in place through a system of anchoring the ‘flowers’ to each other and to the canal bottom.

In addition to providing food and habitat for the canal’s water-based creatures, the plastic blooms also brighten and improve the canal’s appearance. However, it’s not just the look of the canal that is being enhanced pollutants are also being filtered through the plant material meaning the substance of the canal’s waters are being improved.

Whether it’s the neighborhood printing company, or a trendy eatery, improvements to the environment benefit from the effort. As residents build greater connection to an area, support grows for all aspects of the community to be healthy. This sentiment easily translates into buying local as one avenue for insuring area vitality.

Residents and businesses also appreciate a low-cost, creative intervention like the Flower Gardens that can be accomplished through donations of time and money rather than increased municipal assessments. In this regard, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy has found a win-win solution all the way around: environmental restoration that also pays off in civic engagement and community pride.