Rendering of Swale, a floating edible forest
We’re very excited about this floating installation coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island and more locations in New York City this summer, starting June 28th if all goes well. As seen on Brooklyn Based, Swale will be a floating forest on a barge where visitors can actually pick their own food which they can keep at no cost. The floating barge will be irrigated from water from the New York harbor, harbored through the wetlands built onto the barge.
While there may be some initial similarities with +POOL, the floating barge pool that’s in the works for the East River in the attempt to reuse harbor water, Swale is both sculpture and tool, the project organizers describe, providing “free healthy public food at the intersection of public art and service.
There will also be performances, an activist summit, events and a community center on the barge itself. Sounds too good to be true? There’s already funding from non-profit arts group A Blade of Grass and an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign is underway to secure another $20,000, which should make up the $50,000 needed.
The floating platform is 80 feet long by 30 feet wide, and will have a gangway to enter it from wherever it is docked, walkways to explore the space, and of course the available edible plants. As Brooklyn Based describes, what you may find on Swale will include “scallions, Asian persimmon trees, rosemary, radicchio, wild arugula, bok choy, Chinese mountain yams, and more than 80 other species.” The full list is on the Swale website, where they also write that they are creating a collective cookbook of recipes that use the foods to be grown on the barge.
Mary Mattingly, a Parsons graduate and Yale fellow, is behind the project but she’s working with the arts collective Biome Arts to design it, with help from students from Stuyvesant High School, Dwight-Englewood School, and Fairfield University.
Will there be a way to counter the throngs of people hoping for fresh, free food? Is there a commentary here about scarcity and human nature as well? Hopefully, we’ll get to see this all go down if/when the project gets funded.