Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 12.02.34 PM

Composting is a method of managing the breakdown of plant and food waste to create a natural humus rich in the nutrients and microorganisms that help plants grow. The micro biodiversity in high quality compost assists in creating a complete nutrient cycling system.  Composting is key to managing the landscape organically and compost is used to condition soil, control soil erosion and to promote plant growth. The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy uses composting to ensure that the rich plant life of the parks stays beautiful and healthy and grows well without toxic pesticides and minimal use of nitrogen fertilizers.

Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s horticulturalists collect all the plant waste from the parks including all the cuttings, weeds, branches, grass, and leaves. Waste is also collected from local grocery stores, cafes and residents. This helps reduce the volume of street garbage and also helps keep pest populations down. Materials are carefully added to our in vessel composting unit in precise recipes as different plant types need different soil biology for optimal growth. It takes up to six weeks for heat and microorganisms to turn the waste into compost that is ready to be used in the parks. Compost can also be steeped in aerated water to produce liquid biological amendments, better known as compost teas, which can then be used to help maintain a balanced nutrient cycling system.  This is often done in high impact areas of the parks (such as the lawns) where biological balance is required but additional organic matter will cause the soil to compact more and reduce the spaces critical for optimal oxygenation of the root systems.

Composting is essential to the parks of Battery Park City. Natural old growth ecosystems such as forests or marshlands have a diverse biology that man made and intensively used urban landscapes lack. Through composting, the horticulturist can reintroduce biological diversity to the soil.

The Battery Park City Park Conservancy maintains a soil lab on site to allow our expert horticulturists to keep a close eye on microbial activity in the soil and compost teas. Nutrient cycles are also carefully monitored from soil samples taken throughout the parks. Physical counts are performed on the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematode populations of the soils, compost and compost teas to ensure that the plants are getting the nutrients they need to thrive.

Composting is a key element of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s mission of sustainability. Composting, as performed by our horticulturists, creates a closed loop system where waste from the parks, local businesses and Battery Park City’s homes creates the healthy soil that allows the parks’ plants to grow. When residents provide their household waste for compost they take an active role in the rich plant life of the Battery Park City parks.