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Swale: A Sustainable Floating Food Forest in New York

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Swale: A Sustainable Floating Food Forest in New York

Now this sounds like an idea that could really flourish. A group of artists and designers in New York City has come together to launch Swale, a sustainable floating food forest that will traverse the city’s waterways providing free edible plants to the public.


Swale will exist on a 30 x 9 metre flat deck barge, where crops such as spring onions, rosemary, blueberries, radicchio and sea kale will be irrigated with river and rainwater.

The barge will dock at different New York piers for one month at a time. The intention is to transform fresh food into a free public service, and in the future, establish permanent food forests on New York public land, and, ultimately “advocate policy change” to create “a city where public food is incorporated into the urban plan.”

Artist Mary Mattingly, who has substantial previous experience of sustainability projects on water, having lived and worked on a similar barge as part of a project in New York City in 2009, and created an ecosystem on a vessel in Philladelphia in 2014, is leading Swale.


Swale is being part–funded through a Kickstarter campaign and is scheduled to launch in June 2016. At time of writing, the project had raised just over half of the $32,000 it requires by May 25. You can donate here.

Read more about food forests.

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