HarborLAB volunteers taught local students how they plan to restore a Long Island City garden with chocolate industry waste products. NY1's Tanya Klich filed this report.
Far from any cocoa farm, volunteers from HarborLAB worked to transform a once illegal dumping ground into a flourishing garden on Wednesday.
Up to twice a week, HarborLAB volunteers visit the Mast Brothers in Brooklyn.
The high-end chocolatiers donate burlap sacks filled with cocoa shells that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
"We are composting cocoa shells along with other materials to create fresh soil and planting that with native wildflower," said Erik Baard, founder of HarborLAB.
"We can't reverse a lot of the pollution that has come through the petroleum spills and the industrial and chemical waste on the bottom of the creek but at least we can create habitat for migratory birds and butterflies."
HarborLAB also uses their projects to teach the next generation.
This week they allowed students from Hunters Point Middle School to take part in HarborLAB's composting efforts.
"The students have already learned about recycling and composting and it's reinforcing their learning," said Mary Mathai, a teacher at Hunter's Point Community Middle School.
"They're learning about where food comes from and how it cycles in nature. So they're learning about composting and all that. And they're also learning about habitat because they're going to help recreate a habitat that used to be here," said Baard.
Baard also hopes the students will bring these eco-friendly habits back home.
"It's fun and we could help the world and everything," said one student.
Baard says most of the cocoa shells will to turn into fresh soil by the Spring; and within a year or two, he expects wildflowers like milk weed and golden rod to sprout along the creek.