NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As we continue our Earth Day coverage, we explore a little known part of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal.

CBS2’s Jessica Moore takes us to the lush urban oasis known as the Gowanus Conservancy.

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For staff at the Gowanus Conservancy, every day is Earth Day.

“We think about the earth every day, absolutely,” said Xander Shaw of Big Reuse.

Just over a mile from the sewage-battered north end of Brooklyn’s urban waterway sits a slice of ecological paradise, where geese come to nest and lush greenery is thriving.

“This is not your grandma’s Gowanus canal. We have this idea in our minds of what the canal is, but this is a beautiful conservancy. How much work did it take to go from A to B?” Moore asked.

“We’ve been here about 15 years and, certainly, when we started it was mostly picking up trash,” said Andrea Parker of Gowanus Conservancy.

The conservancy now grows and cultivates plants, critical to keeping the canal clean. It also offers a broad sweep of stewardship and education programs.

“Urban nature is as real as nature in the woods, and they can have a real impact on it,” Parker said.

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Hundreds of volunteers work to maintain the salt marsh and create a welcoming environment for native animals and insects, vital for the health of the canal and themselves.

“I get to use my body and be in nature in the middle of New York City, it’s pretty special,” said volunteer Neeyati Johnson.

The conservancy also composts 8,000 pounds of food scraps every week. People can pick up bags of nutrient-rich soil free of charge.

Curbside pickup paused during the pandemic, making this one of the only places in the city where people can drop off their food scraps to be composted 24/7.

“It’s a very good demonstration site and it helps us engage the public,” said Uriah Crane of Big Reuse.

Work continues on the canal’s north end. Toxic sludge is being dredged out of the canal in preparation for rezoning, making way for waterfront parks, commercial and residential buildings, and thousands of jobs.

The conservancy is open seven days a week, with staff encouraging everyone to come out and immerse themselves in nature.

Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced curbside pickup will resume for composting across the city. The conservancy will remain open for drop offs.

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On Monday the city officially began public review on the plan to rezone and develop the north end of the canal.

Jessica Moore