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Please browse our list of newsletters we have sent out, to catch up on the history of the achievements of Earth Matter’s staff, interns, apprentices, and volunteers.

 

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Monthly Features

Previous Features

Summer-Fall 2016: Our Apprentices

Building the Composters of Tomorrow by Kim Tateo and Marisa DeDominicis It's been a wonderful year for our apprenticeship program at our Compost Learning Center. We've had 2 cycles of training for a total of 14 incredibly dedicated and smart students. Our apprentices...

December 2015-January 2016: What makes us Joyful

As the year winds down, our Earth Matter staff reflect on what makes us JOYFUL.   "Working for Earth Matter gives me the opportunity of being a key player in changing the way New Yorkers think about organic waste and its critical role in solving many of the...

October-November 2015: A Summer at Earth Matter

Left: Maya Juman, intern, greets guests and introduces them to our compost. Right: Maya Juman, Nell Pearson, Marisa DeDominicis and Oliver Guterriez at Soil Start Farm. By Maya Juman To be perfectly honest, when I first arrived at Earth Matter on a warm June morning,...

May 2015: Earth Matter Developments

Photo: Solar platform team places the beams in place By Wylie Goodman It was still 35 degrees outside in late March when a dedicated group of nearly 10 volunteers began the tough work of hammering, sawing, leveling, and raising a 12' x 14' frame into the ground the...

April 2015: Mushrooms, Mycelia and Garden Giants

Last fall, a team from the organization Just Food joined us at Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center on Governors Island to lay down a “mushroom bed”, or spawn bed. We spoke to Just Food’s Jorge Cubas about what it means to create a mushroom bed, and what can be...

March 2015: The Raven Orchard

Selma Raven, Mary Ng, Anandi Premlall, Francois Piebo, and Oliver Lamb plant a NYS native apple tree, donated to Earth Matter by Gotham Orchards. [This is excerpted from the graduation speech presented by Earth Matter apprentice Anandi Premlall. Michael Raven was a...

December 2014: The Billion Oyster Project

By Albert Carreras Turn off all lights when you leave a room and the faucet when brushing your teeth, use public transportation, reduce and recycle your waste, and compost your organics. All these actions are part of a long list of tips on how to go green and reduce...

October 2014: Hollis Hillhouse

By Bill Koehnlein If you’ve ever dropped by Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center on Governors Island, you might have met Hollis Hillhouse, long-time Earth Matter Jane-of-all-trades and our Volunteer Coordinator. If you’ve brought a group of school children to the...

August 2014: Celebrating Five Years!

This year we celebrate our 5-year anniversary as the Earth Matter Compost Learning Center. Our new location at the Governors Island Urban Farm has been a dream come true! Let's take a look at some of the highlights from the past five years: 2009: City of Water Day...

June 2014: It’s Your Tern Festival

Come celebrate Governors Island’s treasures: Common terns and oysters! Common terns have recently colonized several decommissioned piers on Governors Island’s waterfront; last summer we counted 181 nests and banded 100 chicks. Festival activities will include: -...

May 2014: Spring Brings a New Garden and a New (micro) Green

by Leah Rhyne As the harsh winter retreats and the first signs of spring emerge, so too is Earth Matter emerging with plans for a new garden. Soil Start Demo Garden will be a triangular plot on the Buttermilk Channel side of Governors Island (GI), across from “The...

March 2014: NYHS + Earth Matter Intertwine

by Eric Weimer, Resource Recovery Intern NY Harbor School (NYHS) and Earth Matter’s goals are different. For Harbor School, the goal is to clean up the New York Bay by replacing oyster reefs that have disappeared from years of human disruption. For Earth Matter, the...

February 2014: The Fab Four A+++++ – Graduating Apprentices

Earth Matter’s compost apprentices have a cohesiveness that evolves based on the dynamics of the group. Who they are sculpts the two day a week (140 hours in four months) regimen.   Our work with the current “fall harvest” cyclers has been a joyful journey. Clay,...

January 2014: My Favorite Coworkers

by Darym Alden, Earth Matter Apprentice As much as we all love Charlie and Marisa, they are not my favorite coworkers. Nor is it, our coordinator, Susan, my fellow apprentices, Clay, Angela, and Andrea, nor any of the many other passionate Earth Matter Volunteers; not...

December 2013: Compostable Serviceware by Angela De Roberts

536 lbs. of compostable serviceware from this year's Just Food Conference   Most disposable, single-use serviceware (e.g., containers, cups, plates, cutlery, bags, etc.) ultimately ends up as landfill.  The problem is amplified by the fact that a significant amount of...

November 2013: Governors Island season. In a word, fabulous.

Our Outpost location at South Battery was a magnet for visitor engagement. This prime location - on the way to the Brooklyn ferry, down the hill from the antique French carousel in Nolan Park, next door neighbor to Children’s Museum of the Arts, a 10 minute walk from...

October 2013: Emmanuel Martinez, Compost Apprentice

College graduation, a day highlighting the accomplishments that come with academia. For me, this feeling of accomplishment was short lived, you might even say it lasted as long as my graduation cap in the air following the traditional toss of the graduation cap. Why?...

September 2013: ‘TINO and MYcetes

Join Earth Matter in welcoming Tino and Mycetes, our new baby bunnies! (left) Tino is a dwarf bunny, Mycetes (My) is a lop-eared rabbit   These latest compost workers are charged with eating food scraps, drinking water, pooping (into a chute to a bin under their...

August 2013: Meredith Hill

Meredith Hill – English Language Arts Educator & Garden Coordinator at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering, in south Harlem discovered an original way to inspire her scholars. Ms. Hill, educator extraordinaire, borrowed 6 one week old...

July 2013: What’s wrong with this picture?

Many visitors that come to Governors Island (GI) have never source separated food scraps in their lives. They haven't had any experience or given any thought to how their sandwich leftovers escape it's tin foil wrapper or how uneaten salad escapes it's plastic clam...

June 2013: Compost Outpost

Join Earth Matter this season at our new "outpost" Center located behind Building 12, close to Cornelius Chapel,  and  the new Brooklyn ferry terminal at Yankee Pier.  Because of massive construction on the south end of the island, our existing Compost Learning Center...

Rot Star of the Month

At Earth Matter, we have so many stellar friends that help us make compost and care for our animals and gardens. Our “Rot Star of the Month” is a profile of an individual or group that holds a special place in our composting community.

Current Rot Star of the Month

Winter 2016: Meredith Levine

Winter 2016: Meredith Levine

Meredith Levine by Marisa DeDominicis Seaport resident Meredith Levine is this month’s rot star! Meredith eagerly and competently embraced the hard work of pitching yesterday’s food scraps onto the hot pile, and enhancing our CLC’s pad 1 garden this past summer with a...

Previous Rot Stars

Summer-Fall 2016: Infinitae Stockton – A Year of Service

A Year of Service by Kim Tateo and Marisa DeDominicis Infinitae first became part of the Earth Matter family when she joined the "3-season" apprenticeship program in 2016, she became part of the inaugural City Service Corps sponsored by the NYCCompost Project. Over...

Spring 2016: Lydia Baird

By Marisa DeDominicis Lydia Baird first volunteered at Earth Matter’s CLC in 2014, as part of her quest to find a suitable muslin composting system for her College, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Located in Chelsea, Manhattan, Lydia envisioned a...

December 2015-January 2016: New York Cares

Animal Care Volunteers since May 2015 (From left to right starting on the top row): Lori, Meredith, Jennifer, and Courtney (May-August), Anessa, Jake, Sacha, Emily (August-November), Serena, Sharonne, Jiwon, and David (December-Present). By Kim Tateo My love for...

October-November 2015: Mary Ng – Farm cooperator

Connie, Mary + Christian worked the bean patch. By Marisa DeDominicis Mary Ng joined our animal care volunteer group about a year ago signing up on our website to help out at the Vendy’s Awards event. She started coming on Sundays to help with Animal Care, then got...

Summer 2015: Michelle Jane Hernandez and Imane Azzam-Rehali

By Marisa DeDominicis Off-season graduate apprentices, Michelle and Imane, are two amazing women who are inclined to look for ways to improve their knowledge around helping to heal the earth, and understand how to implement these practices in their own lives. They...

May 2015: Frederick Phillips

By Marisa DeDominicis Frederick Phillips is Barbados-born, which is a place where life is, largely lived out-of-doors. There were plants and trees in his front yard, back yard and on both sides of his home, and Frederick and his siblings climbed and reaped fruits from...

April 2015: Milo Kotis and Ayun Halliday

By Marisa DeDominicis Milo, son, and Ayun, mom, happened to wander by the Compost Outpost one summer day in 2013, and by the following season they were regular volunteers at Earth Matter’s Friday work days. They brought with them smiles to light up a cloudy midnight...

March 2015: Emmie Campbell and Lori Nelson

By Marisa DeDominicis The first time Emmie Campbell, a high school sophomore, showed up at Earth Matter’s Center was on a Friday volunteer day, near the end of summer 2013, introduced to us by her mom, Lori Nelson. Lori has an intimacy with GI as a core member of one...

December 2014: Leslie Nowinski and Alison Simko

By Marisa DeDominicis Leslie Nowinski and Alison Simko are friends who live in Battery Park City. Three years ago they came to Earth Matter to assist in our animal care, and are now the regular chicken caregivers every Thursday. During the growing season they also...

October 2014: The Schor Family

By Bill Koehnlein The Schror family—William, Sanae, and their son, Haruki—have been helping out at Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center for the past three years. In the summer, they delight in spending time with the goats and taking them for walks around the Center....

August 2014: Ilyse Kazar

Last month Earth Matter was awarded 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. We owe a very special thanks to Rot Star Ilyse Kazar, one of the driving forces behind this feat. As the Earth Matter Board of Directors' Secretary, Ilyse encouraged our organization to expand the NYS...

June 2014: Gilmore Family

One August day in 2013, Gilmore family stumbled upon the Compost Leaning Center Outpost. They had planned to just stop by and meet the animals. They were instantly hooked by every aspect of Earth Matter and have volunteered as animal caretakers ever since. Laurie--an...

May 2014: Sadie Neko

Current writings by Sadie: "I am lucky to volunteer at Governors's Island! It's public but not in winter. We go in winter." (The necessity of our animals' feeding and water year round permits Sadie and her family to access our Compost Learning Center, and Trust for...

April 2014: Pablo Garcia

Who Cares? Pablo Ortega Garcia- that’s who! (left) Source Separation at Just Food Conference 13. (from left) Yeuran Chang, Pablo Garcia, Marisa DeDominicis and Carol Hooper. Lots of people say they are concerned about the environment, but it takes a special kind of...

March 2014: Shig Matsukawa

A Love Affair with Microbes by Andrea Lieske Passion comes in many forms; love for your family, your partner....the works of Beethoven or Bieber. Shig Matsukawa is passionate about fermentation, fermentation of people's food scraps. (photo left) Shig Matsukawa...

February 2014: Toni Hatchett and Her Family

“Toni, what motivates you and your family, including 5 children/young adults, to trek from Brooklyn to Manhattan, then to Governors Island on any given Friday to catch the 10 am ferry to work with Earth Matter?” Toni's response: “Well, my children want to come out. ...

January 2014: Walter Wong

Walter Wong works in an office; the Social Security office at Federal Plaza in Manhattan to be precise. Walter performs onsite audits for the Social Security Administration. Working with numbers pays the rent, but being a friend to Earth Matter allows him to do things...

December 2013: Amin Raheed -The Coconut Milkman

Amin is a partner in “Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights”, a beloved food vendor for the past four years on Governors Island (GI). He is also Fauzia’s husband. They have three children who all help out with the business. Amin hails from Baltimore, and he first experienced...

November 2013: Victor Havrisko

Governors Island maintenance is performed by Wildcat Service Organization.The Wildcats are in charge of making sure that Governor Island (GI) is clean, as well as facilitating some of the landscape maintenance. The crew works closely with Earth Matter to capture and...

October 2013: Shafina, Joseph and Stella, The Composting Family

  Once upon a time an enchanted family volunteered at the Compost Outpost on Governors Island; seventh grader Joseph “the Wonder Boy” Largo, his third grade sister “Bella” Stella Largo, and their ever merry mother Shafina Rahim. Whenever they came to the Center, tasks...

September 2013: Bolton and Nye, The Compost Guys

Earth Matter processes approximately 18,500 lbs. of food scraps each month. Those scraps don’t magically compost themselves, it takes dedicated work to encourage active decomposition. Theodore Bolton and Henry Nye are just the guys to do it. Theodore registered as a...

August 2013: Why Earth Matter Matters by Shaalini

"I feel so proud of my work in making this India bed (plants from India) emerge from a bed of weeds". Athira Sivan On the first day of our new internship at Earth Matter, we did not know what to expect. We were told by our internship coordinators to dress...

July 2013: Alexis Negron

Earth Matter depends on volunteers for accomplishing many of our day to day chores and is lucky to have multi talented members who lend a hand in sharing their skills and expertise. Alexis Negron, who has been apprenticing and volunteering since February 2013, does...

June 2013: Resource Recovery Internship Program

NY HARBOR SCHOOL Resource Recovery Internship Program (R-RIP) INTERNS What does the average high school student do after a long hard day of study and concentration?  Well, the above average kids trek out to the south end of Governors Island to cure oyster shells,...

Animal In the Cycle

At Earth Matter, we maintain that the waste of any process is food for other processes. Nutrients (made up of carbon and nitrogen, among other elements) follow a cycle: soil provides nutrients to plants, plants provide nutrients to animals, plants and animals provide nutrients to decomposers (in compost!), and decomposers return nutrients to the soil. And so on, and so on.

Our monthly “Animal in the Cycle” is a profile of a specific creature and its role in the nutrient cycle on Governors Island and beyond.

Current Animal in the Cycle

Winter 2016: The Downy Woodpecker

Winter 2016: The Downy Woodpecker

Caption: Male downy woodpecker on Governors Island, New York City, December 16, 2016 The Downy Woodpecker By Matt Civello Tap, tap, tap. Methodical, deliberate and thorough, with distinct pauses between each tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap. The sound of a small sharp beak...

Previous Animal in the Cycle

Summer-Fall 2016: The Rollie Pollie

View Image Source By Kam Yau Riddle: Question: What has seven legs, two antennas, and rolls up into a ball? Answer: A rollie pollie! A rollie pollie (also spelled roly poly) is one of the many macro-organisms that can exist in a healthy soil or compost medium. Along...

Spring 2016: Holy Basil

Image Sources - Left: WikiWel |Right: Wikimedia Commons By Infinitae Stockton Holy Basil, (Ocimum Sanctum) is not the same as Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) typically found in your everyday culinary herb collection. Holy Basil goes by many names. It is known as Tulsi (in...

October-November 2015: Ants – Eusocial formicate hymenoptera

"Formica polyctena". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 de via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Formica_polyctena.jpg#/media/File:Formica_polyctena.jpg by Marisa DeDominicis + Charlie Bayrer Our beloved decomposer friends, the ants, make up 15-25% of the...

May 2015: Radish (Raphanus) family: Brassicales

Syed Arif Mumtaz, our farm manager (assistance by Chris Thompson), pulls off radish sprout cover. By Marisa DeDominicis Why Radish? Every spring since I came to NYC, I have planted radishes in several community gardens including Sunnyside Community Garden (bulldozed...

April 2015: All about mushrooms

These are the type of spores that we incorporated in Mushroom Village last autumn. This image was created by user Ann B. (Ann F. Berger) at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images. You can contact this user here. By Bill Koehnlein We revere them; we’re...

March 2015: The Crocus

By Bill Koehnlein The statistics are in and it turns out that this past February has been the coldest one New York City has seen since 1934, and the fourth coldest on record. Even penguins couldn’t take it anymore and sought shelter wherever they could find it. So it...

December 2014: Apis Melifera: The Honeybee

By Marisa DeDominicis and Bill Koehnlein Chickens, as most Newsletter readers probably know, reside year-round at Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center on Governors Island, and from late Spring to early Fall goats and rabbits make the Center their warm-weather home...

October 2014: Animal (missing) in the Cycle – The Osprey

By Annie Barry The osprey, a large raptor, is a common sight along shorelines throughout North America in the summer months. Ospreys can be found on Governors Island during the fall and spring migrations, but they pause on the island for only a day or so to fish the...

August 2014: Nina the seagull chick

By Emmie Campbell On a rainy day, Earth Matter was given a damp cardboard box by Governors Island Security. When I first glanced in the box, the contents appeared to be a pile of damp rags. As it began to move about, it became apparent that it was a baby bird! When...

June 2014: East River Summer Flounder (Fluke)

In the Buttermilk Channel, the small tidal strait between Governors Island and Brooklyn, and in the surrounding habitat, terns feed on small fish, such as Summer Flounder. Like most fish, Summer Flounder (also known as Fluke or Paralichtys dentatus) hatch with an eye...

May 2014: Red Tailed Hawk

By Bill Koehnlein Our GI hawk dives down on Earth Matter chickens on a regular basis! In 1991, Pale Male, a yearling red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) who was hatched during the previous year, took up residency on a window ledge of a tony apartment building at Fifth...

April 2014: Golden Crested Polish Chickens

Elegante, RIP 5.15.13 to 12.21, 2013 Elegante came to us at age 3 days. The little cotton ball tuft on of her head grew into a wild and crazy hairdo. Elegante was a “show stopper” for everyone that visited our Center. One of 2 golden crested Polish chicks, Elegante...

March 2014: Peregrine Falcons

Island Visitors by Annie Barry People are not the only ones that enjoy visiting Governors Island. Peregrine falcons are also frequent visitors to the island, where they can be seen perched on trees or tall structures. The falcons are looking for prey. When a tasty...

February 2014: The Braconid “Parasitic” Wasp

Order: Hymenoptera is the same order as ants, bees and other wasps. Braconidae are popular "biological pest control agents." Each white oval in the photo is actually a wasp in its pupae stage (cocoon). We discovered this hornworm caterpillar crawling on one of Little...

January 2014: Soil Nematode

Pick up some soil or compost, and you may have hundreds of soil nematodes roaming around in your hand. These invertebrates are often called worms, but they actually have very little in common with the well-known earthworm. There are thousands of different species of...

December 2013: The Wallenstein Chipper Shredder BXMT4238

This mechanical “animal”, with jaws that pulverize coconut shell, compostable serviceware and 3” diameter tree limbs into “dust”, is our celebrity this month. With generous funding from the Department of Sanitation’s NYC Compost Project, this tool has enabled us to...

November 2013: The Dragonfly

order: Odonta, family: aeschnidae On many summer days on Governors Island, you can witness up to 20 dragonflies, lined up in a row, all at exactly the same body angle and posture - gracing the top of our snow fencing pickets. Position regulates body temperatures,...

October 2013: The Praying Mantis

Mantis is the name of our latest Aerated Static Pile compost heap. The inspiration for it's name came from the live mantis that was discovered in the tall weeds near the beehive at the Compost Learning Center at Picnic Point while creating this...

September 2013: Penny’s Chicks

When Penny, our red hen, crossed the road to get her chicks to the other side on August 13, 2013, we asked, “how can the chicks all hatch at almost the same time?” We knew that a hen in her prime ovulates every 25 hours, and it takes 21 days for the egg to hatch. At...

August 2013: The Tern

Yankee, Tango and Lima Piers can be found on the Buttermilk Channel side of Governors Island. And on those piers can be found a secret treasure, for they play host to the island’s very own common tern breeding colony. Hundreds of common terns return to these piers...

July 2013: The Goat

Q: What has 4 stomachs, teeth that continue to grow throughout their life, and poops gold? A: The compost workers on Governors Island come in a variety of sizes, ages, genders, and….species.  Every summer Earth Matter imports 2 baby goats (kids) from Goodale Farms, a...

June 2013: Kill Deer

Kill deer have been residents on Picnic Point long before Earth Matter came along. We have had the honor to see this open field loving runner yell and scream at us when we go to pick up a wheelbarrow of leaves, and plant our hay bale beds this spring. The moms are...