Swale, the floating forageable food forest that has visited sites all around New York City’s waterfront in the last few years has arrived at Pier 4 of the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Built on a 130 x 40 foot barge, with 5,000 square feet of an edible perennial garden, the goal of Swale is educate and empower New Yorkers about fresh, healthy food – to get families and children in the local communities where Swale docks to build “ecological resilience through promoting food as a public commons.” On Sunday, Untapped Cities Insiders received a free tour with Swale founder Mary Mattingly, and the sun came out just in time! Check out the photos of this unique space:
In addition to free visits, Swale will host programming on a wide range of topics from public art, to wellness, to environmental activism. Sadly, Swale will be decommissioned by July 1st this year and the plants will go to Governors Island and Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx, where Swale docked in previous years. You can join us for another founders tour of Swale on June 8th, sign up for the event here!
The barge, rented from King Marine, was used to haul sand for construction, and the space within was designed in partnership with a permaculture specialist, scientist and engineer. The 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.
Mattingly’s interest in food stems from her own experience growing up in a tobacco growing town that didn’t have access to fresh water. She says “It’s always [been] on my mind, how to deal with the future of water and the present of water, and how we can clean it ourselves and also care for it…I got involved in this idea after learning that water in New York City is the only commons that existed.” Her goal is to “use the watery commons and try to do something different with agriculture.”