Eagle scout’s incubator sprouts on the Gowanus

The Brooklyn Paper
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A greenhouse that a Kensington Boy Scout is building on the banks of the Gowanus Canal will do two thing: bring native plants back to the area, and take him one step closer to fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming an Eagle Scout.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Lola of Troop 815 in Cobble Hill started developing the plan to construct a mini-greenhouse for the environmental group Gowanus Canal Conservancy last March. Now the greenhouse, which will be used to nurture vegetation that will eventually be transplanted along the fetid waterway, is almost finished and Lola says he could not be happier with how his work has turned out

“It feels really good and really rewarding,” said Lola, who volunteered to build the 12-foot-long, 12-foot-wide canal-side greenhouse to help him achieve the coveted Scout rank.

Lola said that he put a lot of time and energy into constructing the mobile greenhouse, first researching the building techniques, then conducting a feasibility study, then designing it with the help of an architect, and finally securing the funding through donations, including $1,000 from the development firm Lightstone Group, which is building luxury towers along the putrid channel.

“I’ve never built anything like this before,” said the high school senior, who attends The Beacon School in Manhattan. “It was the most intense project I’ve ever taken on.”

Lola, with the help of his fellow scouts, built the 14-foot-high wooden-frame for the greenhouse over the course of three nine-hour workdays. Once the see-through polycarbonate panels are added over the coming days, the plant incubator will be ready to start nurturing plants such as perennial flowers, shrubs, and decorative blooms, he said.

The greenhouse sits in a city-owned lot on Second Avenue at Fifth Street that the Conservancy uses to house a plant nursery and a compost pile and the project was languishing on the group’s wish list until Lola came along. Now the green thumbs have everything they need to begin a campaign of seeding the canal-side with fauna that is from here.

“It’s going to provide a staging ground to expand our native plant propagation effort, which will provide more attractive green space, more ornamental gardens, and support greater wildlife habitats and species diversity around the Gowanus Canal,” said Hans Hesselein, executive director of the Conservancy, which aims to clean up the area around the canal.

The greenhouse was built to be mobile so that it can be redeployed as plant operations move.

Lola, who grew up near Brooklyn’s nautical purgatory, says that his greenhouse is a “small contribution” to sprucing up the banks of the waterway, but that he hopes it will help out in the long run.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

ty from pps says:
What a weird lead for this story.... There are greenhouses all over the city (rooftops, gardens... I think there's even another one on the Gowanus).

What sort of paranoid weirdos are you target audience that the sight of a greenhouse causes shock and horror?
Oct. 30, 2013, 8:22 am
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I have to say that it doesn't particularly look much like an abandoned package or bag. Of course this is only one man's opinion.
Oct. 30, 2013, 9:03 am
JJLNYC from Gowanus says:
How weird it is to comment on the first seven words of the headline and ignore the second half, AND ignore the gist of the story.

"He who can, does. He who cannot - whines."
-with thanks and apologies to G.B. Shaw
Oct. 30, 2013, 9:23 am
ty from pps says:
You mean the story about a boy scout working on a great project that Natalie Musumeci has set up as something "strange" and potentially troubling?

Makes me wonder why she didn't just write that story... the one that starts with the second paragraph and has a different headline. Oh right, everything, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING has to have the air of controversy, right?
Oct. 30, 2013, 9:32 am
JJLNYC from Gowanus says:
The headline and lead-in have now been changed. Congrats on successfully abrogating freedom of the press!
How about you take your winnings, and go buy yourself a sense of humor? :-)
Oct. 30, 2013, 9:55 am
ty from pps says:
Abrogating freedom of the press? Wow! I'm powerful.
Oct. 30, 2013, 10:23 am
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Freedom of the Press is one thing, while things that have nothing to do with each other is a completely different animal. Having said this, Grand Auto Theft is another thing that is different. Pardon my saying so.
Oct. 30, 2013, 10:30 am
Sarah J. Monnwes from Park Slope says:
Are the boy scouts inclusive of gays now? Not suggesting this aspiring eagle scout is gay, or not gay for that matter, I'm just curious (and maybe so is he, or maybe not). Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Oct. 30, 2013, 10:52 am
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
It's a don't ask/don't tell make-up. Similar to fisherman and the like, if you don't mind my answering your question.
Oct. 30, 2013, 11:21 am
Troop815ScoutLeader from Cobble Hill says:
FWIW, additional contributors, in money or material:
Home Depot
Joi and Vince Iavarone
Smith Hanten Properties, LLC
Fairway Market
Ferrara Brothers Building Material
Harbor Freight Tools
Build It Green! NYC
Mr. Tires Automotive
Oct. 30, 2013, 12:14 pm
Troop815ScoutLeader from Cobble Hill says:
@ John and Sarah
"The following membership standard for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America is hereby adopted and approved, effective Jan. 1, 2014:
Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

I hope that settles the question, and I wonder why Sarah is even curious about this particular Scout
Oct. 30, 2013, 12:17 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I believe she was asking about this year and not 2014, if you don't mind my pointing this out.
Oct. 30, 2013, 12:24 pm
mmhmmm from bklyn says:
"sexual orientation or preference" [preference??] "alone"?

Does anyone else see the loopholes-for-homophobes?
Oct. 30, 2013, 1:34 pm
Slopie from Park Slope says:
I see kinda iron-clad "Ain't gonna turn someone down just because he [is, wants to be, thinks he might be, doesnt know if he] is gay"

But come to think of it, why are we hijacking a story about a great deed someone is doing, and turning it into a discussion about gays and scouting anyway??? Surely there are better venues for that.

Talk about "no good deed goes unpunished....."
Oct. 30, 2013, 1:56 pm
Troop815ScoutLeader from Cobble Hill says:
My apologies for the omission:
was also a supporter of the project
Oct. 31, 2013, 10:38 am
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Ah yes, could old DL's in Hell's Kitchen. This is where I purchase all of my wood. Nice people, and great prices. Sorry for the plug. John Wasserman.
Oct. 31, 2013, 12:35 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
*GOOD* old...Pardon the mistake on the air like this.
Oct. 31, 2013, 12:36 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
I think Sarah is trying to create an issue where none exists. Hey Sarah why don't you go after the God thing while you are at it.

I was a boy scout from 8 to 18 and an asm after. Attaining Eagle rank is a very difficult task and a tremendous honor. I I had a guy I knew from cub scouts on who was gay and everyone knew it and nobody cared. He went on to be a dancer in the Joffrey.
Nov. 2, 2013, 6:57 am

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