April 13, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Calling all gardeners!
A Long Island City non-profit is looking for volunteers to take part in a popular gardening program that helps with the upkeep and beautification of two waterfront parks.
The program, which consists of a series of volunteer days, will kick off on April 24 and will see residents of all ages participate in gardening jobs like pruning and weeding at Hunters Point Park South and Gantry Plaza State Park.
The gardening program will take place on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon – and runs until November.
The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy has been organizing the initiative for more than 20 years and says that the demand for volunteers has never been greater.
“Over the last year the parks have seen a dramatic increase in usage while at the same time both city and state parks departments have had their budgets cut,” said Casey Chamberlain, HPPC’s programming and development manager.
“So a lot of the necessary horticultural work has been taken up by the HPPC and our volunteers.”
The HPPC partners with NYS Parks and NYC Parks to identify areas along the waterfront that need to be worked on and conserved. NYS Parks, a state agency, oversees the day-to-day maintenance operations at Gantry Plaza State Park while NYC Parks, a city agency, undertakes the same role at Hunters Point Park South.
The group also works with those agencies to fix broken lights, install new park furniture and other beautification projects at the parks. The HPPC also purchased a number of smart trash cans for Hunters Point South Park last year to combat litter.
On volunteer days, the HPPC works to eradicate weeds like mugworts, clovers and phragmites that threaten to destroy native plants at the parks. Volunteers also take part in pruning, mulching and trash pickups while in the fall daffodil and tulip bulbs are planted inside the parks.
Last year, the HPPC held 56 volunteer days – its most ever – and removed more than 850 bags of weeds. It also planted a record 13,000 bulbs, and 1,300 plants.
The HPPC, Chamberlain said, is looking to build on that success and wants as many people as possible to get involved this year.
“Volunteering in your neighborhood park is truly a unique and special experience,” Chamberlain said. “Where else can you give back to your community, interact with your neighbors and preserve the local environment – all while spending time outdoors and enjoying the fresh air.”
Volunteer days will take place on Thursdays at Hunters Point South Park and on Saturdays at Gantry Plaza State Park.
The HPPC is currently gathering names for volunteer days through May 29. Places are limited since the city and state have placed restrictions on the number of volunteers that can participate given the pandemic.
Residents can register in advance by filling out this form.
All volunteers will be required to wear face masks and follow proper hygiene and social distancing guidelines, according to the HPPC.