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Floating Forest Brings Free Food to New York

Swale, a collaborative food accessibility project, is bringing free produce to various boroughs in New York this summer – on a barge! The creators of the 80-foot by 30-foot floating food forest conceived of Swale as a way to challenge urban food systems and reimagine water as common space.

The perennial-food forest model will contribute to a thriving ecosystem by establishing diverse planting aboard the barge, as aims to get people to start a conversation about how we are affected by the ways in which food is presented to us. Swale is a uniquely promising reflection on the value of community-supported urban agriculture. We at Green City Growers are excited by any number of ways to engage the community in the process of growing your own.


“What if healthy, fresh food could be a free public service, and not just an expensive commodity?”

In recognizing the flaws of urban food availability, creators of Swale intend to deconstruct municipal resources and create policy change so that “free healthy food [can become] a public service, not an expensive commodity.” Because old laws that inhibit foraging for and growing public food on public ground do not extend to the water, the floating food forest will also serve as a political statement enacting hopeful change on the legal side of food production and consumption. Without such innovation remains severe disconnect from where we get our food, and reinforces a caste system of healthy eating by imposing restricting laws and enormous price tags on food for those who cannot afford it.

Art Meets Food Accessibility

Once the project is in full swing, people will be allowed on-board to pick their own produce. Swale’s crew estimates that the forest will be able to provide for 300 people per day, four days a week. The public should look forward to enjoying crops such as berries, kale, leeks, figs, and ginger, as well as attending artistic events on Swale, which are sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts.

The Swale crew hope to prove that sustainable food production can make use of underutilized space and provide healthy eats to everyone – regardless of one’s paycheck size – all the while supporting community art and local ecosystems. Swale has set up a campaign to be able to launch the project by late June in New Rochelle, and will be tackling agriculture adaptability one borough at a time.

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