Greenpoint Lead in Garden Soil Outreach Project 2019-08-16T09:08:25+00:00

Project Description

Greenpoint Lead in Garden Soil Outreach Project

Project Lead: North Brooklyn Neighbors (formerly Neighbors Allied for Good Growth)
2015 Project Partners: Brooklyn College’s Urban Soils Institute; Columbia University; Barnard College; National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools; Greenpoint Reformed Church; Newtown Creek Alliance; Eagle Street Rooftop Farm; and GrowNYC
2018 Project Partners: National Wildlife Federation Greenpoint Eco-Schools; Newtown Creek Alliance; New York City Department of Sanitation; New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
Project Location: Greenpoint-wide
2015 GCEF Grant: $32,527
2015 Matching Contribution: $6,345
2018 GCEF Grant: $50,000
2018 Matching Contribution: $0
Fact Sheet: Greenpoint Lead in Garden Soil PDF
2015 Project Status: Completed (July 2017)
2018 Project Status: Ongoing

In 2015, North Brooklyn Neighbors (NBN) received a $32,527 GCEF grant (and provided $6,345 in matching funds) to conduct a public outreach, and education program focused on good gardening practices to reduce lead exposure for home and community gardeners and students in Greenpoint. Major activities funded by GCEF included:

  • Developing and delivering an education campaign and related materials, including an instructional brochure, postcards, and social media, on the topic of lead and gardening to be tailored to Greenpoint residents and evaluated for impact
  • In concert with local partners, delivering 5 community workshops on lead in soils and gardening practices to reduce exposure for Greenpoint residents, including Polish- and Spanish-speakers
  • Developing a lesson plan and teacher training about reducing lead in soils for use in Greenpoint elementary schools

Strengthening Our Common Ground: Lead in Soils in Greenpoint
In 2018, through a competitive process, NBN was awarded $50,000 in additional funding to educate Greenpoint residents about the potential for lead in local soils, lead toxicity and risks, and to promote best practices to minimize risk associated with potential lead exposure.

  • Developed online media regarding Greenpoint-specific lead soil information including a dedicated webpage to serve as a clearinghouse for the project’s education resources, located at
  • Distributed 500 brochures and 500 postcards at popular community spaces around Greenpoint and to local organizations and groups; NAG also went door-to-door between Greenpoint Avenue and Nassau Avenue from Kingsland Avenue to McGuinness Boulevard and distributed flyers on street corners on the days workshops were taking place
  • Conducted 5 community workshops with safe gardening practices to reduce human exposure to lead-contaminated soil. The workshops provided education and hands-on activities such as using a microscope to analyze soil samples; each workshop had approximately 85 people attend
  • Provided free soil testing for workshop attendees – Brooklyn College’s Urban Soils Institute set up an X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) machine to test soil samples attendees brought to the workshop
  • Created a lead-in-soil educational Toolkit, a Greenpoint-specific 25 page document that contains five lesson plans, which was disseminated at PTA meetings, school fairs, classrooms, and to listservs and can be found online at
  • Reached a total of 350 residents through a combination of PTA meetings, workshops, and other events

August 2018: Over the summer, North Brooklyn Neighbors (NBN) distributed nearly five tons of mulch/compost for garden use to over 200 community residents and connected more than a dozen neighbors to free soil sampling opportunities. NBN also partnered with Eco-Schools to develop and produce a Soil Safety postcard in three languages that provides tips for gardeners and parents with small children; 7,000 postcards (5,000 in English, 1,500 in Polish, and 500 in Spanish) have been printed.

February 2019: NBN created an illustrated brochure outlining best practices to reduce the risk of lead exposure from soil that included tips on how to address high lead levels in soil. When unfolded, the brochure can be posted on the wall as an informative poster. Additionally, work has begun on a second brochure outlining the history of industry in the Greenpoint neighborhood. Both brochures will be translated into Polish and Spanish, and printed this spring.

NBN hosted three lead in soil safety workshops in the fall, including one in December at which a local expert provided individualized recommendations for soil safety and advice on what to grow based on test results for samples taken from participant’s yards.

NBN continued to strengthen community ties by attending and speaking about the hazards of lead in soil and soil safety at local school PTA meetings. NBN has built organizational knowledge and capacity by participating in the Legacy Lead working group, a coalition of concerned residents, city employees, scientist advocates, and greening organizations collaborating to reduce the potential harm we face from lead in soil. In December, NBN also attended the 2018 Urban Soils Symposium, hosted by the NYC Urban Soils Institute. The event is a gathering of researchers and practitioners discussing issues related to soils in urban areas.