Red Hook

Horse manure from Prospect Park transformed into gold for gardeners

Here's the scoop on the poop.

July 3, 2019 Mary Frost
John Quadrozzi Jr., left, and his daughter Xiana rip open one of the first bags of composted manure delivered to Red Hook’s Backyard Community Garden on Sunday. Xiana is a partner with her dad in Prospect Park Stable. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Many Brooklynites don’t know that an adult horse produces close to 75 pounds of manure a day.

So if (for some reason) you find yourself with 25 horses on your hands, you’re looking at close to a ton of manure every single day.

This is the position John Quadrozzi Jr., president of the GBX–Gowanus Bay Terminal on the Red Hook waterfront, found himself in after he became the owner of the historic Prospect Park Stable last year.

Most people would find a ton of horse poop a day to be a problem.

Quadrozzi saw it as an opportunity.

This past weekend, the Brooklyn industrialist dropped off his first load of bagged, organically composted manure at three Red Hook community gardens.

Quadrozzi sees his gifted compost — like gold to gardeners — as a way of paying back the community where he makes his living, and also as a means to make productive use of a resource — a cause near and dear to his heart.

Quadrozzi trucks the manure from the stable to his industrial waterfront facility, where he has started a composting program under the mentorship of the nonprofit Red Hook Farms (formerly Value Added Farms).

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“It’s a short run from the stable to GBX,” he said. “Then we process it there, do the turning. This first batch was probably 60 days, but we’re hoping to get it down to 45.”

Quadrozzi calls the product “hoof harted…” — italics and ellipses his — which makes no sense until you watch the video of an actual horse race in which the announcer repeats the horse’s name until finally its indelicate meaning sinks in.

Although starting out “owning up to its name,” the compost “finishes in the winner circle without a foul odor nor negative aspects like flies and the like,” Quadrozzi said. “This is because we took the time to properly learn and process the material to maturity.”

He added, “To enhance the ecosystem, I’m taking local wood shavings from local Brooklyn wood workers and using it for horse bedding. That bedding in turn gets mucked out together with some residual hay and the manure, bringing the total up to about 100 pounds per horse per day to become ‘hoof harted…’ compost.”

Let’s dig into this a bit

The Brooklyn Eagle visited Red Hook’s Backyard Community Garden on Sunday to get the scoop on the poop.

Ten large bags of the product were stacked inside the garden’s gate. Quadrozzi and Dave Lutz, acting coordinator of the garden, cut one open and showed us the odorless, rich, dark compost.

Lutz said the gardeners were going to add the composted manure to their individual plots, “and also enhance the landscape around the edge of the garden for everybody who passes.”

Pointing to the mounds of wilted greens in the garden’s compost piles, he added, “And we’re going to add it to our compost, which is really hurting for nitrogen.”

How far will the first delivery take them?

“We’re going to absorb this and then we’re going to ask for more. We have a candyman over here,” Lutz laughed.

John Quadrozzi Jr., his daughter Xiana and Backyard Community Garden coordinater Dave Lutz. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
John Quadrozzi Jr., his daughter Xiana and Backyard Community Garden coordinator Dave Lutz. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

The greening of Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront

The manure project fits into Quadrozzi’s overall plan to create a green ecosystem on Brooklyn’s Red Hook waterfront.

He has enthusiastically embraced recycling and sustainability, and is helping to create a floating industrial eco-lab called BlueCity in the waters off South Red Hook. This project’s plan will include waste-to-energy production. Quadrozzi is looking into “doing a model anaerobic digestion with horse manure to power the facility — a more modern form of horse power but redefined,” he said.

Quadrozzi is also known as the man who wants to restore Prospect Park to its former equestrian glory. He has championed repairs to the park’s bridle paths, has upgraded the park’s riding circle (the “Q equine area”), and just last weekend revived an old Brooklyn tradition, the Prospect Park Horse Parade.

“We want to move 100 percent of the material locally. We don’t want to truck anything away, we don’t want to dispose of anything,” Quadrozzi said. “Our first choice is these local community gardens you see here, where people are just putting in their time. We’re seeing this as a give back and an opportunity to network, as well as placing it locally. If we have extra, then we’re thinking some of the local nurseries can distribute it.”

If any is sold, the proceeds will go toward funding the Prospect Park stables.

Community gardens in the Red Hook area that want to try the compost should contact [email protected], he said.

“Hopefully, this will become their compost of choice.”

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