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News / City Life

Pick free produce from a public floating forest this summer

Photograph: Courtesy Swale

For those who want to break bad habits and become more eco-conscious, “green” is the word. Whereas, if you’re only interested in avoiding expensive groceries from Whole Foods, “free food” is a two-word phrase that you (and everyone else) can get behind.

Thanks to a mammoth-size art installation by the creative and innovative organizers from Swale, you get to experience both worlds. That’s right, you can discover the joys of sustainable living while nabbing fresh—and free—produce, and totally avoid the dirty work.  

Recommended: Earth Day in NYC 

Swale’s project is coming to NYC in June via a “floating food forest,” which contains perennial plants (herbs, asparagus, swiss chard, fruit trees with persimmons) that grow on an 80-foot-long barge (a wetland structure), which uses filtered water from the New York Harbor.  

We asked the artist Mary Mattingly for a statement and she says, “The questions we really want to ask are almost utopian: What if healthy, fresh food could be a free public service, and not just an expensive commodity?”

According to DNAinfo, garden-goers will be able to hop on the barge at Governors Island, ogle the majestic greens and pick whatever produce they please. The barge will also head to Brooklyn Bridge Park and The Bronx this summer.

“We want to reinforce water as a commons, and work towards fresh, perennially-grown food as a commons too. We believe that the more people are looking after common spaces, the more those spaces look after us,” says Mattingly.

Oh, we’ll be looking out for it. 



Joe P

Meh..... why not gear this towards the homeless instead of us individuals who already have? The only persons who will go this installation are the literate and intelligent minded that are inclined to think of a higher cause, such as 'sustainable living'. Give that instead to homeless and the otherwise needy. Educate them and help expand their minds and bodies. Market this towards shelters and poor areas, not us who already have. I'd rather pay a dollar or two for a green pepper if it meant there were more for another individual or small family. This installation actually upsets me the more I think about it...

Elle M

@Joe P  OK, Joe, then people that are not poor can go to this installation, get produce, and then give to the poor!  Just because you are not on a street corner or living in a shelter doesn't that you "have"...people make do what the little they have...and just keep afloat. 

Jeannette C

What is upsetting is that Joe believes that the homeless and poor are all ignorant some are very intelligent and are suffering from mental disorder or have a crippling drug addiction or some poor people are just disabled physically and can barely get by but have college degrees They can't use anymore Joe P if you really cared you wouldn't look down on the less fortunate no matter who they are before you contemplate their situation there are so many reasons why some humans have far less than others we should expand our minds to the possibility of all kinds of people having less not because they are all ignorant or lazy but that there must be a valid reason