Swale-Concrete Plant Park-Floating Edible Forest-Barge-NYC.44 PMSwale in Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx. Image courtesy Swale.

Remember Swale, the floating farm in the works for New York City? Well, it’s here and will be moving around from the Bronx, to Governors Island to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Currently, the 130 foot by 40 foot floating platform is docked at Concrete Plant Park along the Bronx River and open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12pm to 7pm. The irresistible offer of free vegetables and herbs for the community include kale, beets, chard, arugula, leeks, artichokes.

Swale will be at Concrete Plant Park until August 20th, and move to Governors Island after. The Bronx is an ideal first location for Swale, literally a platform for highlighting inequity in food access in the borough – an issue magnified by its presence near the Hunts Point Produce Market, where 60% of the produce sales in New York City take place. Yet, it is illegal in the city to grow food on public land.

Swale’s residency in this location is a partnership with the Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, whose director told ABC News that Swale “allows us to talk about various health issues in our neighborhood, it allows us to talk about food equity and justice in our neighborhood.”

Swale-Concrete Plant Park-Floating Edible Forest-Barge-NYC.53 PMImage courtesy Swale.

Lined with gravel, Swale has several demarcated growing pods of varying sizes growing different types of vegetables. Some planters accommodate trees, others are for herbs. Swale founder Mary Mattingly tells us, “The planters are made of reused military water bladders. I really wanted to utilize military refuse for this project. The point was to try to transform objects with embedded trauma into something very positive. The beds are all mixed forest garden foods, when they grow to maturity some plants provide shade and nutrients for others.” A white 10 x 12 foot greenhouse, made by the arts group Biome Arts, is the architectural star of the barge, also doubling as a small theater and performance space.

Swale-Concrete Plant Park-Floating Edible Forest-Barge-NYCImage courtesy Swale.

Swale-Concrete Plant Park-Floating Edible Forest-Barge-NYC-001Image courtesy Swale.

Swale describes itself as a “growing group of individuals and organizations.” They seek to “reimagine food as a public service, reinforce water as a human right, and work together to co-create common spaces.” There’s much more work to do and this is just the first iteration of Swale. The organization hopes to find a permanent location and and is still fundraising.

You can also take a private tour of Swale through the Youth Ministries, by contacting them via phone:  718 328 5622×16.

Next, look behind the scenes inside the Hunts Point Produce Market and read about the Gilded Age mansion that was once at Hunts Point.