CLINTON HILL — A group of local students has planted the seeds for a greener Myrtle Avenue.
Eleven high school students from Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development, at 77 Clinton Ave., planted seedlings at more than 40 tree beds along Myrtle Avenue Wednesday as part of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership’s TreEd initiative.
During the four-week program, funded by the TD Charitable Foundation, the students participated in workshops with the Urban Soil Institute at Brooklyn College where they learned about soil conditions in street tree beds.
The students collected soil samples from Myrtle Avenue tree beds and tested their pH levels, as well as the levels of contaminants like arsenic and lead, at a Brooklyn College science lab.
The group then worked with the Greenbelt Native Plant Center in Staten Island to choose which species would best be suited for Myrtle Avenue’s tree beds.
The students planted the seedlings Wednesday along with eight volunteers from Mercy Home for Children.
David Rose, program manager for public space initiatives at MABP, said the students’ work will not just beautify the sidewalks along Myrtle Avenue, but contribute to the ecosystem of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.
“We picked out plants with the Greenbelt Native Plant Center that would enhance the conditions of tree bed and that would have ability to flower,” Rose said. “We’re bringing pollinators back to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.”
Rose, a Banneker alum, said the program seeks to empower students to be engaged in their environments in their own unique way.
“I want them to understand that they can have control over their environment,” Rose said.
For Julie Ferguson, a 15-year-old freshman, that means keeping up foot traffic on Myrtle Avenue as it undergoes several construction projects.
“Because there’s so much construction I think people purposely avoid coming down this street,” Ferguson said. “I think if it’s more attractive and eye-catching, people will have a purpose for coming down rather than it being a thing that they don’t want to do.”
Tatiana Morin, director of the Urban Soil Institute, said the students have also learned about how the soil contributes to their daily lives.
“But by the end of the workshop they realize that from the clothes they wear to the food they eat, it’s everywhere,” Morin said.
Some students said they’ll be taking these lessons with them into the future.
“I was able to make connections between what I’m doing in class along with what I’m doing here,” said 14-year-old Bria Austin. “I enjoy the workshops, I like to listen and learn.”