New York City’s urban density and the astronomical cost of every square foot of real estate, precludes garden-grown food except in pockets of community gardens, the small backyards of homeowners, and growing number of rooftop farms.
But, among them all, the only water-based resource is Swale, a 130-foot long floating barge where a growing garden of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are offered to the public for free harvesting.
Artist Mary Mattingly founded Swale with a grant from A Blade of Grass whose mission is to nurture socially engaged art that furthers social change.
Mattingly is a noted artist who builds living systems, making Swale an extension of her artistic innovation and advocate for growing food on the City’s public land – 30,000 acres of parks where people are currently forbidden to pick fruits or other greens. In fact, Swale is the only legal facility for foraging in the city.
Swale offers learning, harvesting and volunteering opportunities. Having begun in 2016 at the Concrete Plant Park in the South Bronx (one of the City’s most fresh produce-poor areas) and moving to Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 in 2017, Swale can currently be found at Brooklyn Army Terminal, Pier 4 at 58th Street,
Saturdays and Sundays from 12PM – 6PM through August 1st.
Log onto the Swale website (swaleny.org) for Mattingly’s point of view with regard to use of public land and waterways, organizations she is partnering with, directions on how to get to the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier and parking, and what’s on board the barge this summer, from the apple persimmon and plum canopy to asparagus, lavender, lettuce, oregano, Swiss chard, kale, wild leek and much more.
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By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C strong> President, Metropolitan Valuation Services