Swale: Floating Food Forest Docks at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Albeit temporary, a brand new installation, Swale, has made its home at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and we are thoroughly impressed. Swale is both a sculpture by talented artist, Mary Mattingly, and a functioning farm located on a barge made from recycled materials. Beyond the beautiful setting is a hands-on learning opportunity showcasing the impact of food sustainability, as well as demonstrating value in reusing our planet's natural resources. Oh, and did we mention that this exhibit is FREE?
If you haven't noticed, we are simply ga-ga for Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the greatest additions to our borough. The addition of this installation to the neighborhood's inventive playgrounds, including Pier 6, and the super-fun Pier 2 Pop-Up Pool, puts this waterfront destination in a league of its own. We are confident you will have no trouble making a day of it.
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Explore naturally grown food products at Swale, an exhibit and working farm. Photo by the author.
The first thing my kids did upon seeing the impressive barge was run up the ramp to explore this 130-by-40-foot farm, which grows persimmon, bok choy, yucca, onions, tomatillos, herbs, and even a handful of medicinal plants. We strolled around trying to identify plants and chatted with a handful of other visitors, all admiring the backdrop of the downtown Manhattan skyline. The beehives and colorful wildflowers add to the charm and make it easy to forget you are smack in the middle of one of the world's largest cities. Mom was most grateful for the opportunity to engage the children—through sight and touch—in a conversation about where our food comes from, consuming local produce when possible, and always treating Mother Earth with respect.
Mattingly takes sustainability seriously, as water to feed the plants comes from the East River and has been filtered through a slow sand process that includes carbon filters in action on the side of the gardens. Rainwater is collected from the top of the performance hut, which also serves as an art gallery and meeting area. Between the lessons in sustainability, the large picnic-like table, strewn green garden hose, and graveled meandering paths, visiting Swale is like visiting the lush backyard of an eccentric science teacher.
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Create your own masterpiece using plant-based inks derived from the plants on Swale. Photo courtesy of the venue.
Swale is open Thursdays and Fridays 10am-7pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 11am-7pm, through October 14. Check out a variety of neat Swale events, including yoga classes, performances, and talks focused on sustainability, health, and wellness. Advance registration is required, and, at most, a $10 suggested donation (events look best suited to grown-ups and older children).
Swale is located at Brooklyn's Pier 6, which is accessible by several subway (you will face a bit of a walk) and bus lines. There is also a parking garage around the corner near Fornino's restaurant.
Top image: Photo by Amanda McDonald Crowley/courtesy of Swale.