Mulchfest kicks off with ceremony at Washington Square Park

The chipping machine at work in Washington Square Park. (Photos by Gabe Herman)

BY GABE HERMAN | Now that the holidays are over, let the mulching begin.

The city’s Mulchfest program, which collects people’s Christmas trees to recycle them and create mulch to help trees and other greenery, runs through Jan. 11.

City officials gathered at Washington Square Park on Jan. 2 for a formal celebration of the 24th annual Mulchfest. There are 67 total drop-off sites throughout the city. Thirty-two of them are chipping sites, including Washington Square Park, Tompkins Square Park and Stuyvesant Town.

The chipping sites were active on Jan. 4 for people to watch their trees get chipped in the machines; crews will be back to chip more trees this Saturday, Jan. 11. People can also pick up a free bag of mulch on those “Chipping Saturdays.”

At the ceremony, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said the chipping “will make it easier to say goodbye to holiday trees in an eco-friendly way.”

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver speaking at the ceremony.

Silver noted that 28,000 trees were chipped last year, and he hoped to see an increase this year and going forward.

“One of my favorite things every year is to mulch,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. She thanked New Yorkers for dragging their trees to a local park or just to the curb for pickup by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Community gardens and parks will be better because of mulching, Brewer said, which is needed more than ever because of climate change. “With 67 drops off sites there’s no excuse not to participate,” Brewer said.

Free bags of mulch for people to take.

State Senator Brad Hoylman also attended and noted all the wonderful pun possibilities the event brought out. “It is fir the right reason that we all chip in to save the planet,” he said.

DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia noted that curbside collections for mulching and recycling trees is ongoing through Jan. 17. She said that 218,000 trees were collected last year, and people should drop off naked trees without any plastic or lights attached, so they can safely go through the machines.

Garcia added that the newly-created mulch would be distributed in the spring to parks and community gardens that request them. More information about Mulchfest can be found at

Days after the ceremony, a mountain of fir trees in the shadow of the arch at Washington Sq. Park. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

A mountain of former Xmas trees, waiting for their next transformation—MULCH! (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

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