Swale, ongoing | Website Link: www.swalenyc.org

Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017 Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017 Swale, 2017 c. Strongbow/Cloudfactory Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017
Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, c. AP Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, c. AP Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, c. AP Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017
Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017 Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, c. NYTimes Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017 Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2017
Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Governor's Island, 2016 Swale, Governor's Island, 2016
Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2016 Swale, Governor's Island, 2016 Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2016
Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2016
Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free. Swale is a public floating food forest in New York City on a barge, founded by Mary Mattingly to assert food as a commons. People can visit Swale to pick fresh food for free.
Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Concrete Plant Park Bronx, 2016 Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 2016

Swale is a provocative public artwork and a floating edible landscape on a reclaimed barge that launched in 2016. Growing or picking food on New York’s public land has been illegal for almost a century for fear that a glut of foragers could destroy an ecosystem. Swale utilizes marine common law in order to be public yet circumvent local public land laws. Swale is a folly, a floating edible landform that provides free food for harvest at the intersection of public art and service. With Swale, we want to reinforce water as a commons, and work towards fresh food as a commons too.

Swale came out of learning that in addition to over 100 acres of community garden space in NYC, the city cares for 30,000 acres of public parkland, while access to fresh food is limited. People visit Swale to pick edible and medicinal perennial plants for free.

In 2017, due to a confluence of Swale, a NYC Parks commissioner supportive of edible landscapes, and the strength and support of many community groups and stewards, NYC has opened its first "foodway" in Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx. If there continues to be stewardship interest, they could build more.

I grew up in an agricultural town outside of NYC where the drinking water was polluted. That framed my understanding of clean water as an increasingly rare resource that needed to be protected.  So Swale came out of a need to connect with and rely upon New York's waterways and public land in order to better care for it, and by proximity each other. Swale has been a tool to advocate for policy change. Since marine common law is different from New York City's public land laws, Swale can pave a pathway to create public food in public space.

 

Documents:

Swale and Urban Field Stations: NYC and NYS Parks "Art, Data, and Ecology at New York State Field Stations"

Pratt Institute "A Network of Urban Field Stations in the City" documents

A Blade of Grass, Swale's first granting organization, produced this video of Swale in its first year:

CUNY produced an episode of Science & U on Swale in year 2:

 

CBS News documentary about Swale in 2017, interviewing Naseem Haamid from NY State's Summer Youth Employment Program:

 

CBS New York on Swale in 2018 at the Brooklyn Army Terminal:

 

CNN Going Green about Swale in 2017, with the launch of NYC's first Foodway at Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx:

 

In 2018, Steve De Seve visits Swale with BRIC TV:

In 2017, Swale was kept alive through a sponsorship with Strongbow Ciders:

Voactive keeps Swale alive financially through filming on Swale in 2017/2018:

During Swale's first year, news orgs help spread the word:

 

Amanda McDonald Crowley films Swale's first celebration:

  

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