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Sep. 23, 2013 10:15 am

Science is on hiatus at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Scientific research at the century old Brooklyn Botanic Garden is on what a spokeswoman calls a temporary hiatus and it’s caught the ire of some rather passionate Brooklynites.

Sunflowers of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Photo by Brady Dale, July 2013

Scientific research at the century old Brooklyn Botanic Garden is on what a spokeswoman calls a temporary hiatus and it’s caught the ire of some rather passionate Brooklynites.

Flatbush resident Chris Kreussling started a petition on Change.org, calling for the reinstatement of scientific research as a priority at the 103 year old institution, just off Prospect Park. The petition was started in response to the dismissal of the last members of the scientific staff following a budget shortfall and an already shrinking team.

“The Garden will use this hiatus –- the result of a convergence of a financial shortfall, an engineering problem at our off-site science building, and the absence of our director of science who is on loan for a fellowship –- to regroup and carefully develop a new focus for scientific research,” said BBG spokeswoman Kathryn Glass to the Brooklyn Eagle.

“Attrition in science and in other departments helped BBG to weather the downturn in the economy without compromising its beauty, safety or accessibility to the public,” she added.

On Sept. 6th, the BBG released a statement on a re-envisioning of the institutions research program. No details of this new vision are given. One group that may be eager to hear more about that vision might be the teachers at the Brooklyn Academy of Science and Environment, a public, STEM high school located just east of the BBG, across Washington Avenue. The school was located there to integrate its mission with that of the BBG and Prospect Park.

A former staffer has been quoted as saying the cuts contradict the garden’s founding purpose:

“The beginning of the Botanic Garden was the science department — that’s the cornerstone of why it exists,” said one former staffer, who asked DNAInfo that her name be withheld. “It’s another step in it just becoming a pleasure garden for Park Slope.”

The second of five planks of the garden’s mission statement is: “Engaging in research in plant sciences to expand human knowledge of plants, and disseminating the results to science professionals and the general public.”

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Brady Dale

Brady Dale is a freelance writer, comedian and storyteller. A native of Pittsburg, Kansas, he went to Cornell and worked as a progressive community organizer for over a decade before quitting his job to pursue writing and performance. He lives in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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