A floating food forest is making its debut.
Swale, a project spearheaded by NYC artist Mary Mattingly that’s described as “both sculpture and public service,” provides free, healthy food to visitors to a barge that has been planted with fruits and vegetables.
After undergoing construction in Verplanck, New York, the barge is slated to kick off this Saturday at Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx.
Mattingly was inspired to do the food project after learning it was illegal to grow free food for the public on most public land, according to Amanda McDonald Crowley, Swale’s coordinator of public programs. “The thought was, what if we sidestepped that stipulation and did it on the waterways?” said Crowley.
The barge, which is decked out with irrigation and solar systems, will feature a variety of vegetables and plants, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy and mint, as well as tomatoes, blueberries, peaches and plums.
“We’ve done quite extensive labels that explain what everything is and what use it is for,” said Crowley. Swale is also seeking volunteers who can help visitors pick from the plants.
Crowley hopes to do events like cooking classes, and she is working with local groups for programming. In the Bronx, the Bronx River Alliance is organizing a canoe trip on the Hudson River on July 30, and the Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice is holding a pop-up library.
After a month at Concrete Plant Park, the barge will be towed to other parts of the city. The plan is to be moored at Governors Island’s Yankee Pier from mid-August to mid-September, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 from mid-September to mid-October and the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier in Sunset Park from mid-October to mid-November.
“The hope is to generate enough interest and funds to continue the project around the city and essentially throughout the Hudson,” Crowley said.
Swale will be open to the public Wed.-Sun., noon-7 p.m. For more info, visit swaleny.org.