project leader
Sam J
550 Wheeler Ave
Staten Island (Governors Island)
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the project

Harbor School's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Program requires a steady supply of oyster shell for use as a growing medium for our baby oysters, which are then used to restore native habitat in the New York Harbor. The best way to do this is to collect shells from local seafood restaurants, who otherwise pay to cart them off to distant landfills. Unfortunately right now we're only able to collect a very limited amount of shell (~20 lbs/week from two restaurants) because we have no vehicle of our own. Instead we rent a gas guzzling cargo van every week, which is of course expensive, inefficient, and unsustainable!

Our solution is to purchase our own ultra efficient diesel vehicle and to make our own fuel out of WASTE VEGETABLE OIL (aka biodiesel) collected from the same seafood restaurants.  We already own a small-scale biodiesel processor (the FuelMeister), which we operated for two years when the school was housed in Bushwick High School as a teaching tool for science classes. Now we want to restart our waste oil collection program alongside our new oyster shell collection, and use the biodiesel we manufacture to power both the collection vehicle and the school's FOUR diesel powered BOATS. Everything is in place for this program to launch. We have all the equipment and facilities and permissions secured. Our partner, Earth Matter Inc, is providing space for both the shell storage/curing station and the biodiesel production site inside a garage bay at their compost learning center on the south side of Governors Island. All we need now is to purchase our DIESEL VEHICLE.

the steps

The ideal model for us is a Dodge Sprinter cargo van (with Mercedes powered diesel engine). We’re looking for a moderately used Sprinter (2006-2008) which cost approximately $15,000. I have already identified several for sale locally and would be ready to make a purchase as soon as we secure the funding.  In addition to the vehicle itself we also require long term funding for insurance and periodic maintenance (see budget below). Lastly, when it's not collecting shell (2-3 days/week) the van will be available to other Harbor School and CTE programs for a range of uses, including transport of SCUBA and ocean engineering gear, towing boats to the waterfront, and hauling equipment to the new Harbor School marina and classroom building.

why we're doing it

Our progress from 2007-2013 includes: 10 million live oysters growing in NY Harbor, 2 nurseries established, 5 middle school gardens established, and more than 600 public school students involved.

Our proposed objectives through biodiesel powered shell collection program from 2013-2018 include:

  • 100,000 lbs. of shell collected annually and diverted from NYC’s waste-stream
  • 100 gallons of waste fryer oil collected weekly from NYC restaurants and diverted from for-profit rendering companies for non-profit school uses - 80 gallons per week of zero-net carbon diesel fuel produced for use in the school's fleet of boats. 
  • 25 Harbor School student interns per year engaged in management of shell collection and curing systems for oyster restoration
  • 250 middle school students and 10 teachers engaged per year in oyster gardening projects using recycled shell and teaching restoration ecology science curriculum
  • 5 million oysters restored to NYC waters per year for minimum five years (2013-2018)
  • Hundreds of public visitors to Governors Island engaged in oyster restoration and aquaculture program by participating in shell curing volunteer days and educational tours of Harbor School aquaculture facilities



Transportation Units Cost/revenue ($) 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017   5-year total
Cargo Van (eg Dodge Sprinter, 2002-2006) 1 15000 15000 0 0 0 0   15000
Fuel (@2.25/gal with small batch biodiesel production) 50 gal/week 2.25/gal 5850 5850 5850 5850 5850   29250
Insurance 1 year 5000 5000 5000 5000 5000 5000   25000
Driver (@$15/hr, 8hrs/day) 16 hrs/week 15/hr 6240 12480 12480 24960 24960   81120
Vehicle Maintenance estimate max 1000/year 1000 500 500 1000 500 500   3000
total transport cost - NYHF match                 124120


Year One SUBTOTAL = $20,500
ioby Platform Fee  $35
3rd Party Credit Card Processing Fee (3%) $6,15
TOTAL TO RAISE = $21,150



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