Mary Mattingly

Public Food: A Science of the Living City Event Aboard Swale

Participate in a fascinating public discussion with expert opinions on the idea of growing food in public spaces.

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What if healthy, fresh food could be a public good? Board Swale at Pier 6 for a panel discussion on the topic hosted by the Urban Field Station on Public Food with perspectives from the NYC Department of Parks, Partnership for Parks, National Forestry Service, Green Thumb, and Brook Park Community Garden.

Community gardening has deep roots in many New York City neighborhoods, while new forms of urban farming – including entrepreneurial models, rooftop farms, controlled environment agriculture – are also emerging and proliferating. Activists define food justice as access to healthy, fresh, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. Some argue that food justice is a right.

Swale, a collaborative floating food project, is dedicated to rethinking New York City’s connection to our needs for sustenance. Built on a 130-foot by 40-foot floating platform, Swale contains an edible forest garden. Functioning as both a sculpture and a tool, Swale provides free healthy food at the intersection of public art and service. With Swale, the creators want to reinforce water as a commons, and work towards fresh food as a commons too. Please join us in a conversation with community practitioners, city managers, and researchers about growing and harvesting public food in public spaces.

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More about Public Food: A Science of the Living City Event Aboard Swale

Swale is a collaborative floating food forest where people may visit, partake in the caretaking process and learn about food sustainability. Created by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale functions as both an evolving sculpture and a tool by producing healthy food at the intersection of public art and utility.

Built from recycled materials atop a 130x40 foot barge, Swale was created to prove that food can function as a public resource in cities and to show that recycled materials can be made into functional and aesthetically pleasing structures. Visitors to Swale will see persimmon, bok choy, yucca, onion, tomatillos, herbs and other perennial fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. Water to nourish the plants is taken directly from the East River and filtered through slow sand and activated carbon filters. Rainwater is collected from the rooftop of the Biome Arts Greenhouse Theater, a pavilion that serves as a performance space, activist meeting hall, and artist gallery aboard Swale.

Learn more about Swale on our Public Art page and see other Swale-based events here.