food barge nyc food barge nyc
Photo: Andreana Bitsis

Swale, A Floating Food Barge, Aims to Bring Fresh Produce to NYC

If you’ve been in NYC for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed the produce here– excepting the apples– can be pretty abysmal, especially in less affluent areas. (We’re looking especially at you, tomatoes. Seriously– what is wrong with them here?!)

But what if NYC could bring their produce a little closer?

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“It started with an idea: clean water is a right– what if food could be that way too?” asks Mary Mattingly in a short documentary about her new project Swale.

Swale is a farm barge traveling along NYC’s rivers (complete with a roost of chickens!), and was built with the goal of sparking discussion over urban land access. Currently, it is illegal for public parks in NYC to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, despite the South Bronx being the largest food desert in the United States. Operating within a technical loophole, Swale offers a model with improved quality and access to fresh produce, while simultaneously eliminating transportation waste.

“Of course, New York City isn’t going to feed itself from one floating barge,” Lindsay Campbell, a Research Social Scientist with the US Forest Service, says in the video. “But she can capture the imagination of individuals that visit.”

To learn more about Swale, visit their website and watch the short video below:

FIELDWORKS: MARY MATTINGLY, Swale from A Blade of Grass on Vimeo.

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