Cleaning Up The Gowanus Canal One Broom At A Time
March 9, 2012
The Gowanus Canal is a 1.5 mile long man-made waterway in Brooklyn. The canal was originally built in the mid 1800′s for barges, and the surrounding land was used for various industrial activities.
Today, parts of the land are used for heavy industrial undertakings, some for light industrial use and some of the area along the canal is mostly residential.
The Gowanus canal has been cited by the EPA as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the country and currently a large scale effort is being made to clean it up.
If you want to read more about the clean up efforts all you have to do is an internet search for Gowanus Canal and clean up. There is tons of information out there. What I want to write about is something I found a lot more interesting. (Although don’t get me wrong. As someone who lived in NYC for 12 years, 6 of those in Brooklyn, I am thrilled about the clean up process.)
Sweep was started by Christina Kelly and Jeff Hutchison who run Husk in Brooklyn. The two met when Christina was growing corn and Jeff was drawing plants in CAD. They found they had a common fascination for the history of Brooklyn agriculture and decided to stat Husk.
At Husk the two work as a duo on multi-platform projects that explore the agricultural histories and possibilities of New York City.
Sweep, one of their current projects, focuses on the Gowanus Canal. With funding from the Brooklyn Arts Council and Feast, and the go ahead from the Gowanus Canal Conservatory, the steward for the site, Jeff and Christina planted a terraced garden of Broomcorn which was used to make brooms before synthetic materials took it’s place. They even brought in a broom maker from the Catskill Mountain Broomworks, a company that sells brooms made out of Broomcorn, to give a broom making workshop.
Jeff and Christina hope the garden and the broom making will bring attention to the efforts being made to clean up the Gowanus area and help restore it to it’s original state.