New York's Floating Forest Is Back With Some Exciting Changes

© Swale
You can board beginning this Spring.

Getting the freshest food in New York City often means heading to Whole Foods. But when Swale's floating food forest docks once more in Manhattan's waters this summer, urbanites will have even fresher option with which to fill their fridges—food they pick themselves.

Swale first floated to New York City last June, opening its barge to 300-odd city dwellers a day who could pick everything from asparagus to kale and raspberries from the 130-foot-wide barge's gardens. The same enticing patches of plants will be back this year, but Swale has announced some big upgrades to its offerings.

For starters, Swale will unveil a redesigned barge when it docks this year. With the help of British cider company Strongbow, Swale has added "tons of soil, gravel, and lava rocks to create a more park-like atmosphere," plus eight apple trees and 400 perennial edible plants. And while foraging for food on Swale's floating food forest has always been free, this year patrons will leave with more than handfuls of vegetables and fruit: There will also be a seed exchange that will help peopple grow their food at home.

At one time, Swale might not have returned to Manhattan, let alone remodeled its already unique experience. A lack of funding threatened to derail the project, which was supported last year by a mix organizations and individual donors. According to artist and founder Mary Mattingly, the partnership with Strongbow saved the floating food forest.

"The future of Swale was uncertain as the barge headed upstate to over-winter last November," founder Mary Mattingly said in an interview with Condé Nast Traveler. Now, "we have been able to fully realize the vision of creating a floating food forest and showing New Yorkers a new and surprising way to connect to nature to revive and thrive."

Manhattanites can begin visiting the floating food forest, which will dock in New York starting this Spring.

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