Edible Urban Farm Floats on Hudson River Bringing Free Food to New Yorkers

(WellnessNova.com) - New Yorkers are nothing if not innovative. While the city is massive, for most of its residents and businesses, it’s actually a tight squeeze—studio apartments and lofts, or storefronts barely wider than the door frame. So, city dwellers get creative—bookshelves sprawl floor to ceiling, restaurants custom build tables to fit into tight spaces. And the latest of the city’s many urban farms? Well, this one will be floating on the Hudson River, where space is actually quite abundant.

The farm, called Swale, is also an art project designed by Mary Mattingly. It’s built onto a barge and will be floating around the Hudson, docking at a few of the city’s local piers for two weeks at a time. While it’s docked, it’s open to visits. And if you’re on the Swale, you can also pick any of the food growing, for free.

“First and foremost, the barge can move from place to place so more people can have access to it,” Mattingly told Fast Company, “It highlights the waterways as a commons—as a space that needs to be cared for and in turn can care for us.”

The 80-by-30 floating farm will grow more than 80 types of trees and plants, “from wild ginger and raspberries to asparagus and arugula,” reports Fast Company. And if rain is scarce, there’s a system that can syphon up some of the river water. But it’s not a hydroponic system.

“We really believe in soil-based growing systems wherever they can be had,” says Mattingly. “It eliminates need for extra electrical energy, nutrient solutions, algae management, and so forth. It never crossed our mind to use hydroponics when our structure can support the weight of soil, and need less maintenance because of that. We are focused on growing systems that require minimal human intervention, due to their longevity.”

The project is also going to work with neighborhoods to help set up permanent food forests that can provide ongoing free sources of food for the city’s communities.

“We believe the time is now to inspire transitional economies that include fresh and healthy food as a public service, not just an expensive commodity,” Mattingly says. “We believe that there is a place at the table for art that is active, experiential, and a service itself.”

Image via Swale

Written by Jill Ettinger
Jill Ettinger is a freelance journalist, editor, and marketing consultant. She is the senior editor and featured columnist on sister sites EcoSalon.com and OrganicAuthority.co,. Jill has been featured in The Village Voice, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Global Rhythm, as well as the anthologies "Towards 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age" (Tarcher/Penguin) and "What Do You Believe?" (Outside the Box). Jill spent more than a decade as a sales and marketing manager in the natural foods industry and regularly consults with emerging brands and organizations in creative communication, social media, and marketing strategies. For more info, visit www.jillettinger.com.
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