The historic Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn is not only a center for learning local history and permaculture, but it has also quickly become the neighborhood’s source for composting. With help from the neighboring William Alexander Middle School students, the grounds of the Old Stone House flourish with an educational and edible garden for all to enjoy. The inside of the home functions as a museum and classroom, while the outside is a source of native plants used for food, medicinal purposes, and animal habitats.
The Old Stone House, originally built in 1699, was part of the Battle of Brooklyn and was reconstructed in the 1930s by Robert Moses to serve as a tribute to colonial life. Today, the house functions as a museum and hub for the neighborhood Washington Park.
The grounds surrounding the Old Stone House and adjacent school have been transformed by Claudia Joseph and Kim Maier into a wonderland of colonial life and edible gardens. Since the park grounds have been developed and leveled over the years, the soil was rendered infertile. With funds raised through ioby, the organization built rat-proof compost bins which yield enough compost to fertilize the vast gardens. The local coffee shop Café Martin regularly donates disused coffee grounds to ensure a nutrient rich compost for growing crops.
Maier and Joseph have also enlisted local students to help cultivate the compost and work in the gardens. A permaculture course was created in a nearby middle school, which offers students classes in farming, seed planting, composting, and cooking. Through these courses, the Old Stone House is giving young people the tools to create a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. By working directly with healthful produce and plants, getting their hands dirty with compost, and experiencing the fruits of their labor, the students create a life long bond with the importance of farming, fresh food, and preserving the environment.