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 ( 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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Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

We have long been a proponent of rooftop gardens and farms which make fine use of otherwise unproductive space, as well as serving to insulate buildings, prevent damaging runoff and alleviate the Heat Island Effect.

Manhattan is, after all, a vertical metropolis where the use of every square foot is both art and science. While we think of that verticality as height, it can work productively both ways. Up. And down.

Thus, it is that a basement in TriBeCa contains one of the City’s best-kept secrets and most unique establishments – a 1,200 square foot, hydroponic urban farm where 500 varieties of greens and herbs grow with neither soil nor sunlight.

The growth medium is, instead, water-based and nutrient-rich and the “sunlight” is LED lighting. No pesticides are used, but you will find beneficial insects hard at work protecting the precious crops. The close proximity, pesticide-free produce is used by many of the City’s fine restaurants – think Le Coucou, Daniel & Butter for a few – and is also available for your home table.

Freshness is guaranteed as products are delivered via bike and subway within the hour. Only in New York can you get summer sorrel hand-delivered during a snowstorm.

For the garden’s website, log onto where you can learn more, book a tour or hold your next special – really special – event.

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Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services