NYC’s first ‘floating food forest’ is preparing to sail down the Hudson River this June. Inhabitat reported last year on the plans for Swale, a project conceived by artist Mary Mattingly, and now the barge-top fruit and veggie garden is under construction. The plans call for a self-sustaining floating garden with the big advantage of being able to travel and dock in various boroughs to allow city folk from all over to harvest freshly grown, healthy snacks.
At its core, Swale is an art installation named after a geographical feature. A ‘swale’ is a low marsh between ridges, which could be symbolic of the way the floating food garden will hug the water’s surface amid towering skyscrapers on the river’s edge. But like so many urban artists, Mattingly has a bigger vision than ‘just’ art appreciation, since Swale is fully interactive. In addition to crafting an 80-foot-by-30-foot floating food forest, she aims to inspire city dwellers to revisit their ideas about the relationship between food production and community. Swale will be “more garden than forest,” said Sally Bozzuto of Biome Arts, which is partnering with Mattingly to bring the project to life. She explained that the garden will have “some small trees including alder, lime and Asian persimmon. All [the plants] are edible, including the small trees, bushes and shrubs such as gooseberry and huckleberry, and smaller plants like asparagus, cherry tomatoes, yams and greens.”
Once construction is complete and the barge is ready to launch on the Hudson River, it will look much like food forests do on land. A gangway entrance will invite visitors to climb aboard, and pathways winding through the forest will guide people along a trail surrounded by trees bearing edible fruit as well as a variety of vegetable plants. Visitors to the food garden will not pay an entry fee, nor will they be charged for the fresh produce they decide to take home, or eat right away.
Swale will be home to a summer art series sponsored by Biome Arts called EcoHack 2016, which will bring live performances and gallery shows to a pavilion atop the floating food garden. Just bring the salad dressing.
Images via Biome Arts