In October 2006 Hollenback became interested in getting a composting toilet. Garden co-coordinator Mark Trushkowsky researched existing composting toilets in the city and arranged a visit with the Battery Park Conservancy to look at the models they had next to their ballfields. Mark and two other gardeners, Marisa Dedominicus and Charlie Bayrer, went to visit the composting toilets located at the ball fields in Battery Park. After a lovely visit and tour of the facilities, our group became very excited about the prospect of raising money and getting our own composting toilet to replace our expensive, smelly and chemical filled port-o-potty.
Several weeks later Marisa was down in Battery Park and heard that the Battery Park Conservancy, run by Tessa Huxley, was going to be redesigning their ball fields and was looking to give away their composting toilets- perhaps to community gardens. Then began a series of phone calls to the Battery Park Conservancy, which led us to Brian at the New York Restoration Project who was coordinating the distribution of these systems. After many phone calls expressing our interest in a single stall unit that they were giving away, and after getting approval from our own garden members, we were eventually told that we were going to be getting the unit. This unit has an original retail value of $15,000.
After much discussion, it turned out that Battery Park would need to auction off the toilet, along with the 2 other double stall units it had at the ball fields. The auction turned out to be an e-bay auction that was eventually won, with much glee, in the final seconds, by Cara Perkins, garden co-coordinator. Hollenback has donated the remaining 4 toilets to Council on the Environment for distribution to other community gardens. The enormous unit, which consists of a 10 x 6 ft 800 lb double-lined plastic tub then needed to get delivered. Once again Marisa came through brilliantly by arranging for free delivery of the unit by the Park Avenue Building Supply folks. This delivery has a value of $2000. Thank you Park Avenue! We also got permission from our neighbor, Don Fahr, to place the unit next to his house. Thanks Don!
Then the real work began. The garden needed to dig a 300 cubic foot hole 10’ x 6’ x 5’ for the tub. Over 2 weekends, over 20 volunteers came forward to dig, break rocks, move dirt, lay gravel and generally get sweaty and dirty to get this whole dug and the tub lowered into the ground. Charlie came up with a great plan to get the heavy tub into the ground that involved lots of rope and lots of team work. The moment of truth came with great relief when we checked the level of the tub and found out that it was true. Here are some pictures.
Several weeks later, with the help of Don Mills, from Clivus Multrum, more volunteers came forward to help construct the house shed and put the toilet together. In the past 8 months we have, with the design leadership of garden member Peter Brown, also installed the solar panel on top of our neighbor’s roof, hooked up the battery to run a circulation fan and hung the door.
We are now ready to welcome you to the garden in comfort and style.