Missed Swale New York’s “floating food forest” the last time around? You’ll get another chance to check out its bounty starting next month. Housed on an 80-foot-long barge, the 130-by-40-foot community garden will be making calls at select ports from April through November. (Precise dates and locations will be announced presently, we’re told.) The garden is free to tour—and free to harvest. Guests will be able to help themselves to a share of the mobile farm’s crops, which in past iterations have included perennial favorites like cauliflower, broccoli, squash, peppers, kale, bok choy, ramps, zucchini, radicchio, and scallions. You may even find boughs laden with persimmons, bushes plump with blueberries, or trees hanging with bananas.
Part farm, part art project, Swale is a response to laws that prohibit foraging for food on public lands. By taking to the water, however, the garden is bound by a different set of rules.
70 percent of the plants grown on the barge are edible. The others are to attract pollinators—including the bees that live in a repurposed piano—or keep pests away.
Mary Mattingly, the artist who spearheaded the project, says that Swale brings us “one step closer to transforming our city from dependence on large-scale supply chains with little accountability.”
She describes Swale as a “call to action” and a vision of New York City’s potential future. “By bringing together groups from varying backgrounds, we will create an environment that works together to find new ideas and answers to food security,” she said.
Visitors are welcome to contribute to the garden with their own plants and seeds. It’s a joint effort, after all.
“Together, we are re-imagining our city,” Mattingly added.