NYC's first floating food forest is giving New Yorkers the chance to hop aboard and sample its edible plants. Swale, a collaborative effort by artist Mary Mattingly and a diverse team of contributors, transforms a 130-foot by 40-foot barge made from repurposed shipping containers into a public oasis where people can come pick fresh produce and learn about urban agriculture. Swale will be docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park for just a few more days, so don't miss your chance to climb aboard and nosh on some of its bounty for free.
Part artwork, part farm and part educational tool, Swale was designed as a way to feed both people’s stomachs and their minds. Mattingly came up with the idea after discovering that it was illegal in New York to use public land to grow food for free public consumption. Since land was out of the question, she immediately considered NYC’s open waterways as a way to bring fresh produce to even more places throughout the five boroughs.
“What if free healthy food what a public service and not an expensive commodity?” asks Mattingly in her video about Swale. “That’s the question we really want to ask with this mobile structure. Because we can move Swale from place to place, we can share it with more people. Through this process, we can build the necessary momentum to work towards policy change where the city actually considers different public spaces and where food can be grown there on a long-term basis.”
Swale is home to more than 80 species of edible plants, from blueberries to celery to oregano to Swiss chard, asparagus and even persimmons.
The floating ecosystem has also attracted its fair share of non-human admirers as well. PandoraBird, an interactive installation by Elizabeth Demaray in collaboration with Ahmed Elgammal, seeks to identify the musical preferences of Swale’s avian visitors using “computer vision and interactive software to track and then play the music choices made by wild song- birds.”
Swale will be open from 11am-6pm until November 13 at Brooklyn Bridge Park‘s Pier 6 (near Joralemon Street and Furman Street).
Photos: Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat, except where noted. Special thanks to Elizabeth Demaray for her help with these photos!