Free Healthy Food In New York Harbors ‘Sets Sail’ In June

Free Healthy Food In New York Harbors ‘Sets Sail’ In June
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A floating food forest, New York’s first, will be open for business in the harbors in June this year.


Setting sail in June, the part farm and part art project, the Swale New York is a food forest built on a barge created from shipping containers.

As noted by the Swale New York website, it is “a collaborative floating food project, is dedicated to rethinking and challenging New York City’s connection to our environment. Built on a 110-foot by 30-foot floating platform, Swale contains an edible forest garden. Functioning as both a sculpture and a tool, Swale provides free healthy food at the intersection of public art and service. With Swale, we want to reinforce water as a commons, and work towards fresh food as a commons too.”

Although there have been similar projects – Beacon Food Forest in Seattle and Clifton Park Food Forest in Baltimore – Swale has been built on an 80 foot by 30 foot barge. It has a massive variety of plants, including berry bushes, lime trees and lavender.

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Mary Mattingly is the person behind the conception of the project. According to Dezeen, Mattingly is known to create “sculptural ecosystems in urban spaces.”

Some of the other collaborators of Swale include Jono Neiger, a Massachusetts-based landscape designer; Casey Tang, a New York graphic designer; and Rik van Hemmen, an engineer and marine consultant from New Jersey. Also contributing towards the project are artists like Karla Stinger-Stein and Marisa Prefer.

Irrigated with river water, public will be able to access the food forest.

“We want to reimagine fresh, free food as a public service, not just a commodity,” Mattingly said. “We also want to reinforce water as a commons and clean water as a human right.”

According to Broad Channel, the barge will be making stops at several New York piers, including New Rochelle, Concrete Plant Park, Governor’s Island, Pier 36, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Navy Terminal. It will make its final stop at Staten Island’s Homeport in November.

In its first year, Swale is expected to produce as many as 6,000 pounds of food. “We want to turn what could be challenges into positives,” Mattingly said, according to Civil Eats.

A Kickstarter campaign will be organized to fund the project. As many as 79 contributions – amounting to $6,100, with the goal set at $32,000 – had been made as of May 2.

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