Small Army Speeds WSMC Garden’s Big Projects

Small Army Speeds WSMC Garden’s Big Projects

Sometimes it just seems we have too many tasks for too few hands. What would we do with an infusion of willing labor?

We found out on Thursday, Nov. 5. Citizens Committee, the philanthropy whose grant enabled us to upgrade the Warren St. entrance, organized a corporate volunteer day. Four people who normally pursue financial affairs for Santander Bank showed up to paint, assemble, lug, collaborate, climb, descend, shovel, plant, shovel and shovel.

Jessica Iovene, Anthony Rogriguez, Thania Chanlatte and Shari Lofton, with the able hand of Citizen Committee’s Emily Hirsch,  poured themselves into our wishlist.

Anthony clambered on top of the shed and gave it a first coat of paint. Our incredible luck? He was a professional house painter in a previous incarnation!

Jessica, Thania and Shari puzzled out the shelving, toting hunks of metal onto the flat surface of the sidewalk and snapping everything together seamlessly. Then they reconfigured it all without complaint when it turned out Andrea, the garden administrator,  had part of the plan wrong. After that, they headed into the shed, wielding an electric screwdriver to mount tracks for hanging tools.

The team proved resilient, undaunted when rain that was not in the forecast began dribbling from above. Anthony and Melanie, the garden treasurer, covered the shed roof with plastic and everyone moved on to new tasks. Jessica and Anthony excavated an area around a pipe that brings in water to the north side of the garden, enabling plumbers to assess the source of a leak that forced us to keep the water turned off on that side through the summer. (We’re still working on this one.)

Shari, Thania and Jessica moved soil and planted a dogwood and several other native plants on our St. Marks side, and Anthony, joined by Jessica, dug out the foundation of a curving pathway that will allow us to wander among our new plantings without tromping on them.

The Santander teams did a huge amount of work, giving us a much-appreciated leg up for our last Community Garden Day of the season. Garden members picked up the baton on the next Saturday, putting a full second coat of paint on the roof of the shed and a full first coat on the sides, following through on the pathway, and virtually completing all the planting.

We thank our Santander friends for all they’ve given us. And we hope they will come back and see how they’ve helped us thrive.

All Hands on Deck: Our New Shed is Coming!

The grant proposals of last year are becoming reality. The heavy construction for our Warren St. entryway project is successfully behind us, and a planting plan is underway for our November garden day.

And our new, bigger and better shed arrives next week. You are cordially invited to help prepare the way!

Saturday, Oct. 10, 10AM
We’ll be gathering to empty the shed, inventory and organize its contents, and begin disassembling the hulking wreck that has served us so long and so well.

Sunday, Oct. 11, 10AM
Our October Garden Day

We will finish disassembling the old shed, build up the soil in the vacated area, compact it and lay a foundation for the new larger successor.

We have other projects for the garden day, too, including clearing out dead plants from the community plots, cleaning the coop, and turning the compost. We can use all the help we can get! Thanks in advance for joining us whenever you can, for however long you can.

Help Needed This Friday
If anyone can help unload bags of soil GreenThumb is delivering Friday, please EMAIL Andrea (

Bring Seeds Please!
We need spinach and chard seeds for planting this Sunday at Garden Day.

See you in the garden! 


Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: The Story of the New Warren St. Entrance

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was our upgrade to the Warren St. entrance. But heck, ours only took ONE year!

Melanie Holcomb masterminded the grant proposal, winning $1,500 from Citizens Committee with a plan that included the rough steps we needed to take. That was last fall.

The grant came through this spring, and we began wrapping our minds around the practicalities — while seeing the garden through an ambitious, highly successful reorganization of its operations.

All the plans were in place by early September. Siena Chrisman laid out a pattern on our September garden day. Last Wednesday, Sarah Westlake accepted the delivery of thousands of pounds of gravel and sand for the entryway and 20 heavy pavers for the base for our new shed (yes, ANOTHER capital project this calendar year).

David Bivins and son Arlo, Keith Rettig, Gabriela Wolf, Parker Fishel, Andy Browne, Melisa Garber and Melanie Holcomb met up Saturday morning and laid several inches of gravel and another couple of inches of sand. Andrea Kannapell dashed around, picking up the compacting machine and other materials. Chloe Abercrombie provided hands, hearts and water! Seven hours later, we suspended work so Communal Spaces lovely, moving plays could go on.

Sunday, our final day, took finesse. We were working with bricks, concrete pavers and stone blocks, and trying to create an even surface that sloped upwards slightly from the sidewalk. That took a lot of discussion and thought experiments, and another trip or two for many more bags of sand and other supplies. And a couple of tries to work the glass bricks in without breaking them.

We are so pleased with the end result. Come take a look! Andy’s making a time-lapse video that we’re all looking forward to seeing. And help us thank the thinkers, planners, laborers, sweepers, providers of cool lemon water, Citizens Committee and everyone who made this possible.

And thanks to Sheri Stein, Mimi Rosenfeld and Pat McCarty, who have been researching native plants for both the Warren and St. Marks sides. We’ll be using the rest of our Citizens Committee grant to make the Warren St. side even more gorgeous.

Next weekend, we’ll be preparingfor the arrival of our fabulous new shed! Stay tuned for details.

Free Plays & Movies in the Garden


Communal Spaces: A Garden Play Festival is presenting two short plays (20 min. each) for the next three weekends in the community garden. There’s ample opportunity for everyone to see these plays! And they’re FREE!

Saturdays & Sundays
Sept. 19-20, 26-27

An Apple Today
by Charly E. Simpson, directed by Megan Weaver

Enter a Garden

by Dominic Finocchiaro, directed by Lillian Meredith


Come on out and enjoy the beautiful September weather. Friday Nights are Movie Nights to the end of the month! Great documentaries and features, starting at dusk.


June 14, 2015, Garden Day Meeting Notes

June 14, 2015 – Garden Day Meeting Notes

We had a great turnout on a beautiful day and got through a long list of chores. The sidewalks are neat and clean, the shed is much more organized, the litter is gone, and there are MANY fewer weeds. The peaches have been winnowed in the hopes of increasing the size of the remainder. Our meeting went beautifully as well.

We are working on the early-morning noise from the hens. We are putting out “toys” for them at night and extra vegetables, so they will not be bored in the morning, and we will be keeping track of what works. We’ll also be taking special care that the chickens don’t get overheated, bringing them frozen plastic bottles of water and frozen fruit.

The deliveries from the Angel family farm have begun. There is plenty of room for new members. Keep in mind that each share is so much food that some people are going in for thirds.

Should be fixed in July.

Child gate
Parents of some toddlers ask if there is some kind of low temporary gate that they could install when they are here. They will offer some concrete examples to be considered.

We have gotten two this year, one for $1,000 to replace the shed, one for $1,500 to upgrade the Warren St. entryway. We need to move the brick “altar” by the grill area, since that’s where the new shed will be. We will stack the bricks on the gray pallets by Mrs. Layne’s wall.

Collaboration with Skate Shop
The owner would like to coordinate with us to send young people over to work with us, and he’ll give them a discount. He wants to help nurture community values. We are pursuing.

Dirt delivery
Kings County Nursery will bring loose soil and some bagged soil on Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. We can finally fill the last two community plots.

Compost reminder
If the person before you did not put sawdust in, please add. Cara, who has a car, will help us collect wood shavings from Tamer Fine Furniture in future.

Brad Lander, our city council member,  is looking for opportunities to meet with folks. Maybe coming by a garden day or Make Music New York. We are reaching out to his office with a variety of dates.

Reminder of coming event
The annual Make Music New York festival is  Sunday, June 21. We will have wonderful performances from  5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.

Steering Committee Meeting Minutes – June 7th, 2015

Steering Committee meeting of 6/7/15 
Sarah Trignano
Chloe Abercrombie
Kristin Davis
David Bivins
Amelia Wilson
Ruth Chasek
Brian Ricci (and Frank and Rocco!)
(Not attending: Melanie Holcomb, Sally Smith, Valerie English)
1. Meeting Dates: We are rescheduling our regular meeting, moving it to the third Tuesday of the month at 7:15. Andrea is sending a Doodle poll to see when the best time for a meeting in late June.
2. Plumbing update: Balkans finally gave us an estimate for just under $2,000. Alex Figliolia came by and should be sending us an estimate shortly. BANG agrees it is an infrastructure issue and therefore its responsibility, but asks that we have the work done in July to go into the next round of reimbursement grants.
3. Soil/Compost: We will focus on buying enough soil/compost for the two community plots, and use the fall delivery from GreenThumb to fill the remainder.
4. Grant update: Andrea is going to a meeting with the Citizens Committee on June on Tuesday June 16 at 11 a.m., which is the next step toward receiving the $1,500 grant we were awarded to upgrade the Warren St. entrance.
5. Compost update: 
We need a pickup of wood shavings (David will emailing Stephen Arthur to see if he wants to make this his regular contribution).
Latch is here to make compost tumbler into sifter.
The tube sifter was improved too.
6. Chickens update:
VolunteerSpot– Kristen struggling to make the calendar by letting people sign up themselves. She may revert to setting the calendar up herself.
Noise — can we soundproof the nesting box?
We will have the next Garden Day meeting (Sunday, June 14) at noon.
We can test different methods of calming the hens — more exercise, late person come after they go to sleep so they have food in the morning, possibly add more nesting boxes. Could be their age. We will order chicken toys.
7. Chicken birthday party as fundraiser — Brian will organize, with Chloe’s help. They will reach out to Max and his girlfriend, who have a recipe for a chicken birthday cake.
8. The CSA begins Tuesday, June 9, with 12 shares. Liz Angel hasn’t emailed CSA members, so David is doing so.
10:  Garden Day agenda
distribute soil if it is delivered
general cleanup
turn compost
fix mesh along bottom of fence — need zipties, which David can bring
bring over paving stones offered by Tom (at 104 St Marks?)
re-repair picnic table.
finish spreading woodchips and mulch
remove boards
winnow peaches
Meeting at noon.

Steering Committee Meeting Minutes – May 4th, 2015

Steering Committee meeting of 5/4/15

Attending: (SC) Chloe, Melanie, Brian, Val, Sarah, Kristen, Andrea, David by phone; (BANG rep and alt) Ruth and Sally; plus Gab, and Max for a bit.

1. Possible fundraiser pegged to hens birthday.
Max and Shayna making a cake suitable for hens, special recipe. Their actual birthday is May 7, but Brian will be away and there’s not a long time to organize. So we’ll choose a date in June, give them a chicken swing, make a fundraiser out of it.
(Our June garden day is on the 14, a Sunday. So perhaps the following Saturday, so the garden will be looking its best?)

2. Finances:
Melanie says we haven’t even touched our reserve funds and we have 3 times as much money as last year, thanks to membership dues increase and grants. (We also just had our best plant sale ever, making $618.) We are doing well but should continue to fundraise since we have the capacity and enthusiasm, and some great, potentially expensive, projects on the horizon.

Discussion: should we make contribution sign/jar part of Open Hours shift?

Some don’t want people to feel pressure that they need to donate every time they set foot in the garden. Perhaps it should be limited to specific moments. We agree that it makes sense to put the jar and sign out, when we’re having an event with a lot of organizers, and on garden days. But putting it out generally might be putting too much responsibility on the open hours person.

We’ll also add a donate button to our redesigned website, and we are trying to add one to our Facebook page (Brian working on this).

3. Hen security
Kristen says we’re now keeping the coop locked, whether the hens are out or in, to keep anyone from getting inside the coop or bringing other animals in. No one but tenders will be allowed inside coop.

Kristen will give Val language for a sign on the coop about the new rules.

4. Update on the water supply
Andrea says that Gahl Shottan, our GreenThumb liaison, came out and examined the valve by the northern bollard. She suggested the problem might just be a loose nut. Andrea arranged for Vigilante to come by Tuesday morning to assess the problem. They are waiving their $79 assessment fee, and if is just a matter of tightening the screw, will not charge. If it is more complicated, we will get a second opinion and estimate from David’s plumber.

5. BANG business
Ruth and Sally say that all is going well. BANG wants help with the Fab Fifth Fair on May 17. They will have the tent out for the first time, and need help staffing. They also want plant starts to sell.

In future, Ruth and Sally will transmit BANG biz by email and if appropriate, as in this case, write something up for Val to send to membership.

6. Melanie and Gab present options for longterm changes in the garden layout.

Handouts show the plans. The original Sally Lawless garden plans didn’t work because the structures would be in the middle of the garden, obstructing views. These options avoid that and move things around to maximize sun for plots.

— move compost to where kids plot is now, and move displaced plots to current compost area. It would be a more attractive compost set up, maybe with a pergola.
— We can add some seating where the steel cans are now.
— Chickens will stay where they are, but the shed may shift. We could (a) get one big shed for everything, or (b) get a largeish shed for the tools and a smaller one for hen stuff.
— We don’t want to lose a kids plot, so it will be moved nearer the shed. David’s reconstruction allowed for a kids plot near the community plots.
— Desire for seating by the coop and by the euonymus (that big green bush in the center of the garden).
— The Warren St. entrance will get a bricked-in oval and native plants, per our grants.
— Shrubs with four-season interest along the Laynes’ wall, by the picnic table.
— Should we move the fruit trees over by the shed? They will shade the newly built community plots.

Andrea will ask Justin of Arborpolitan if we CAN move them.

Steering Committee votes for Plan #2 (two sheds, with the big one placed is where the big pile of bricks is (“the altar”).

Melanie will send Val the plan to post online, and language to send out to membership that we’ll vote on the plan on the next garden day, May 16.

small shed $450
big shed 5×10 cost tk

We’ll maybe put a bench where the little round table is now, to remove the roadblock the round table tends to cause. Bench would also be safer — the chairs tend to tumble over.

Brian’s question: can we paint the wood of the plots? Andrea will ask Gahl if we can do that and still be organic.

We will invite members to propose locations for seating.

7. Looking forward to the CSA
David says we have 7 shares signed up so far, and need 10. A lot of people are sharing, which means a lot are participating. Do keep encouraging people to sign up. David will send a note to Val and to Brian to post for members and nonmembers. Sally will propose it to attendees at the Warren St. block association meeting May 16.

8. Update on compost reorganization
Sarah says things are great, temperature is awesome, often reaching 150 — high enough to kill weed seeds. We are now mixing in leaves and dirt as well as sawdust.
–She moved the black bin next to the tumbler behind the tree, with the other one. They have all the un-broken-down hay and poopy sawdust and leaves. Coop cleaners can mix the used sawdust into the black bins, the steel cans and the main bins.
–Having the orientations was fantastic. Still have funny surprises — somebody dropped off a feather pillow. Possibly a dead bird.
–Re the Park Slope Food Coop compost, we are still trying to meet up with the point person to discuss what we can manage.
–The tumbler can now be converted into a sifter, by purchasing a screen and replace a latch. We’ll wait till we get the new one running before disassembling the old one. More food is being brought for the hens. We need a fifth can — they’re filling up fast. Sarah will reach out to Gregg Zuman to make sure our supply of wood shavings continue. We may add coffee chaff from Gorilla to the compost or coop or to ward off insects.

9. VolunteerSpot/Slack
VS seems to be working, and we are all learning. Andrea will try to set up a workshop for a coming weekend so we can all do some hands-on familiarization. Steering committee is on Slack, and we are all getting used to it. Down the road, we may consider having our work teams use Slack channels as well.

Great meeting — all that in LESS than 90 minutes.

Angel Family Farm CSA Coming to the Community Garden!

Join Angel Family Farm CSA!


The Angel’s have been farming in Orange County, New York since 2006. Originally from Mexico, the Angel’s launched Angel Family Farm after taking farm business courses given through Grow NYC’s New Farmer Development Project in 2004. Their farm since then has flourished to what it is now, a sustainable farm providing for Farmers-Markets and CSA’s all over New York City. It brings the Angel’s peace of mind knowing the farm grows using sustainable practices. (No pesticides or chemicals!) They believe in providing a safe product for their family and the communities they serve.

How it works: Angel Family Farm will deliver vegetables from their farm (in Goshen N.Y.) once a week for pick up; each week you will receive 6-8 different, delicious veggies and herbs, which will vary from our wide variety of vegetables. You will also get the opportunity to try exotic veggies that aren’t always available at farmers markets. You will have fresh healthy food for your family each week when you buy a share and at the same time support a Local Farmer!

Every week there will be a crate of rows lined up (heaviest to lightest) and you will bring your own bags to take something from each box. A list will be provided for you at every drop off telling you how much of each you can take.

Typically a share is enough to feed a family of 4-6; herbs can be dried and stored, any left over veggies can be washed, diced and frozen. You can always email us to help you make the most of your produce. Remember we don’t use any chemical or pesticides, and we are local! Our food is the best you can get in town! Not only will you taste the difference between local and supermarket but eat ALL its nutritional value! It’s the best food you can put in your bodies and feed your little ones.

Name: Warren St. Marks Community Garden
Location: 619-623 Warren Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Start Date: Tuesday, June 9th 2015
End Date: Tuesday, November 3rd 2015
Pick up time: Tuesdays, 6pm-8pm
Pricing: Early deadline: (Full payment in by April 30th) $528,
Regular Pricing: (Full payment in by June 1st ) $550

To Join: Download the Contract
For more information: Contact David Bivins via EMAIL  or  call 718-789-7779

Farm Trip dates: All CSA members welcomed!
Transplant day: Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd and 25th 2015
Harvest day: Labor Day weekend, September 5th and 6th 2015

Find out more about us!
Watch our movie: What’s on your plate By Catherine Gund (Streaming on Netflix)
Check out our Website:
Like us on Facebook: Angel Family Farm
Check us out on:





A New Garden Sponsor:

VolunteerSpot_logo makes it possible for us to coordinate our the work of garden members. The software’s easy signups and scheduling save us a lot of time, and help us keep track of our work teams and garden day attendance. We use the premium version of the software, but there is a very good free version as well.

Annual General Meeting Minutes – March 15, 2015

Annual General Meeting, March 15, 2015

Sally Smith discusses her efforts to reconstitute the Warren Street Block Association.
Anyone interested should contact her at

Steering Committee introductions

Andrea Kannapell, administrator
David Bivins, garden coordinator
Chloe Abercrombie, events coordinator
Amelia Wilson, membership coordinator
Ruth Chasek, treasurer

Val English — communications
Melanie Holcomb — fundraising
Dylan Mabin — plots

General introductions and favorite moments

Sheri Stein — misses being on the compost team

Kit Schneider — just love going to the garden, but also being with the chickens, in the rain, sleet and snow

Ruth Chasek — the finding of the bees nest that was unearthed and managed to move it

Jessica Magaldi — kids were chickens for Halloween

Aaron Koffman — last year proposed to my fiancee in the garden

Amelia Wilson — Dolly the chicken was feared ill and we bathed her in Kristen’s bathtub. She was fine.

Mimi Rosenfeld — joining the garden|

Max Henstell — I like hanging out with chickens. Was worried about Dolly and took her home for a couple of days. Had her in a closet. Behaved like a dog. Followed me around and wagged her tail.

Sarah Trignano — having someone toss her kid into the leaf bin for an hour.

Sally Smith — loves taking a 2-year-old to visit the chickens. Love hearing them when I walk by.

Cathy Carver — love our beautiful flock.

Pat McCarty — this morning, doing a little coop clean, walk around and see the daffodils peeping out.

Mary Dillon — I love the event when we had the guitar school, kids to adults playing the Rolling Stones.

Chloe Abercrombie — last year, when we got together to plant the community plots, and later seeing everything ripen and knowing anyone can harvest.

Kristen Davis — it was just awesome this morning, cleaning the coop. It was the first time it was comfortable in so long, and hearing birds. The chickens were all happy. Also Dolly’s spa treatment in my bathtub.

David Bivins — one member last year asked what he could do. the path by the compost wasn’t big enough. This is mundane, but by the end of the day it was done. And it was great.

Andrea Kannapell — film nights!


Steering Committee reports
Treasurer: we’re in better shape than expected. Total income: 2034.42 Total expenses: 2344.88
Total assets: 5970.59
We may want to raise dues.

Melanie and Andrea (mainly Melanie) got several grant proposals out, two for $3,000 each and another for compost rebuild. If the compost grant doesn’t happen, we can try to get on BBG’s Greenbridge  list for 2016 as a compost demo site, meaning they will come rebuild the system.

Redesigned website coming

Last year there were some plot stewards who did not tend their plots, we’ll be more watchful this year. Chloe made green arrow signs for people to put in plots if they are away and want others to harvest.

Things going well with BANG: it got 10,500 in grants, some of which is flowing back to the gardens.

National Wildlife Habitat, we’ll be putting up signs

GreenThumb liaison Gahl Shotten, terrific

We’re hosting a GreenThumb event

GreenThumb has promised a delivery of soil


CSA — We will host the Angel Family Farm CSA (details at It’s independent of the garden.  David Bivins is liaison and gets free share, with Mary Dillon as backup. $550 for full share of 22 weeks, enough for a family of 4 for a week. There are also half shares. The dropoff is Tuesday evenings, 6 or 6:30. CSA members can visit the garden twice a year, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. This is for the whole community, not just garden members. Beginning Tuesday June 9.

Workshops — we’d like to have them NOT on garden days, to keep the garden open more.

Events — several nice events. Make Music NY June 21, Easter Egg Hunt, Harvest Festival. And we’re having the same events this year, and welcome new ideas.

Membership — About 95 joined or renewed from last annual membership meeting to today. Calculate we got about $1800 in dues since this time last year. It’s hard to see who is compliant. We’re hoping VolunteerSpot will help us make that much more evident.

Team reports

Chickens — Last May 7, our chicks hatched and came to us in a box at the post office the next day. They were peeping and hearty and healthy. They lived in Kristen, David and Arlo’s living room. We ordered 9, Tiger Lily died after a week. She just didn’t thrive. This next year with the chickens should be easy and mellow. We should be set. We have a core group of 13, two shifts a day and a Sunday coop clean. Right now we have 12. Eight people are interested in joining, training March 29 at 9 a.m. Would love for chickens to get out more, get more exercise. Goal of building the chickens a swing this year. Consider adding money to the chicken budget for vet services.

Chicken budget: total expenses last year $752.41, what was budgeted was $650, but we knew it would have to be more. We were buying chicks, warming lights, tiny feeders, etc. Fundraiser made more than $500. We may want to get supplies delivered, to avoid having to make emergency trips.

Compost  — steel can system is working. compost team getting stronger, not just the same few people every time. We’re learning more, seeing changes we want to make. Hoping to rebuild either with grants or with Greenbridge, possibly next year. The hay from the chicken coops is  a lot of green and we need more browns.

Sidewalks — Basically it’s been really good. [prior discussion included how there was virtually no expense for snow because members shoveled, as well as the unfortunate disappearance of many of our shovels.]

Idea free-for-all: what if we had a day and just cleaned up our two blocks? They are filthy. [Curtailed because of meeting length.]

Other ideas that came up: seeing if the Angel Family Farm might be able to bring hay for hens, feed, etc.


Elections for steering committee
Steering committee reorganized as below,  with unanimous approval of slate.

Administrator — Andrea Kannapell

Garden (w/plots) — David Bivins

Treasurer — Melanie Holcomb

Events — Chloe Abercrombie

Membership — Amelia Wilson

Communications — Valerie English

Chickens — Kristen Davis

Community Plots — Frank Ricci w/Chloe Abercrombie as deputy [This role was removed from steering committee in April 2015]

Compost — Sarah Trignano

[Fundraising — Brian Ricci — this role was added in April 2015]

BANG representative — Ruth Chasek

BANG alternate — Sally Smith


Vote on 2015 budget

revised to include $500 from BANG for treework. BANG will repay the $1,000 loan. We’re buying new locks that will not freeze in the winter.

Discussion of reducing our pizza/food budget. It’s just easy. Key Foods might be willing to donate a giant sandwich. Chicken group will merge its finances into the general budget this year.

Budget passes unanimously.


Bylaws and Rules

Bylaws had been revised many times, become laden with many specifics on day to day operations. Goal of revision was to return Bylaws to matters of overall governance, and to put specifics in  Garden Rules.

Revision of Bylaws and Rules discussed, amended and approved.

Change of dues to $25-$50 approved.