Building Green Infrastructure in Queens


SCA ConSERVE NYC Volunteers Help Keep the Queens Botanical Garden Organic

SCA volunteers in New York City don’t take the summer off. This Saturday, 80 volunteers came together at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing for July’s ConSERVE NYC event. Gathered on the Terrace of the garden’s Platinum-LEED Visitor Center, participants kicked off the day with a dose of inspiration on why volunteers are so critical to the site:

“We strive to be not just an urban oasis, but a model of sustainability for New York City,” said Public Programs Manager Regina Forlenza. “That means we don’t use any weed killers or any other chemicals in the garden. We’re completely organic. But without those chemicals, it takes a lot of extra effort to keep weeds and invasives at bay. That’s where volunteers come in!”

SCA volunteers didn’t waste any time getting started. Guided by project leaders from SCA’s Sandy Recovery Program and Hudson Valley Corps, one group set off to remove invasive mugwort, bindweed, and phragmites from the waterway at the front of the garden; another group met up at the garden’s Urban Farm to spread mulch and compost; and a third group set to work in the Parking Garden, where bioswales and permeable pavers help to divert stormwater off the pavement to be captured and reused.

Among the day’s participants were volunteers from the Brooklyn Tech Key Club, the Bryant High School Coalition of Students for Environment & Climate Action, Bard High School, Hunter College High School, Park East High School, St. John’s University, Fordham University, Christodora New Youth Conservationists, and JetBlue Airways. Also in the field were dedicated members of SCA’s YCC and Sandy Recovery crews, who chose to spend their weekend serving the planet after an already-grueling week on the trail. (“After swinging a pick mattock all week, pulling weeds seems easy!” one member insisted.)

By lunchtime, volunteers had removed over 30,000 sq ft of invasives from the waterway and Parking Garden, and spread 900 sq ft of compost on the Urban Farm. “We will be growing our fall crops in these beds,” explained Farm Manager Lise Serrell — “cabbage, broccoli, bok choi, radish… And they are now prepped and ready to go thanks to all of SCA’s hard workers!”

After enjoying lunch on the Visitor Center Terrace, volunteers took a tour to visit the green roof, the bee hives, the rose garden, and the apple orchard, and learned about the many examples of innovative green infrastructure that make the Queens Botanical Garden a model of urban sustainability.

“How many of you had visited the garden before this?” asked Public Programs Manager Regina Forlenza at the end of the day. Of the 80 volunteers gathered on the Terrace, around 10 raised their hands. “How many of you want to come back?” A sea of hands shot up. “Well, we hope you all will! You’ve helped to maintain it, and it’s your garden too. You’ve made it yours.”


See more photos from the July event at the Queens Botanical Garden.

As part of the ConSERVE NYC initiative, SCA hosts regular public service events to engage the conservation community and build resiliency in New York City’s public lands. The next event will take place on August 16th at Conference House Park on Staten Island. Volunteers can register at