New York’s New Urban Farm is Built to Float Along the Hudson

This floating food forest is adding a whole other dimension to New York’s urban landscape.


(TierneyMJ /

True to her trade, New York artist Mary Mattingly, has found a creative and innovative way to create the city’s newest food forest, a type of community garden that mimics a natural landscape and that anyone can freely harvest. Since it’s illegal to grow food on most public lands in New York, Mattingly is building her food forest, not on land -  but on water.

Dubbed Swale, the project consists of a 80-by-30 foot floating platform on which the food forest will be built. The forest will include more than 80 species of trees and plants, from wild ginger and raspberries to asparagus and arugula, and will travel from pier-to-pier every few weeks.

Swale is built on water for more reasons than just sidestepping city regulations. "First and foremost, the barge can move from place to place so more people can have access to it,"  Mattingly told Co.Exist. "It highlights the waterways as a commons—as a space that needs to be cared for and in turn can care for us." Furthermore, the Hudson River will provide Swale with water that, once desalinated and purified, will be used to irrigate the plants.

With plans to launch in June, Mattingly and the artists and organizations she has partnered with are hoping to shift the concept of fresh and healthy foods from an “expensive commodity" to a public service. As Mattingly puts it, "we believe that there is a place at the table for art that is active, experiential, and a service itself."

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