Bobbing along Staten Island's North Shore, a rickety-looking structure is actually a lean, "green" floating machine. Part-sculpture, part eco-experiment, the "Waterpod" is the brain child of artist Mary Mattingly.
"I was thinking about global warming, the sea level rise and how we would protect ourselves when climate change became more apparent throughout the world," says Mattingly.
The nomadic barge moored off of New Brighton is roughly 3,000-square-feet of self-sufficient farm and living space. The crew says it took roughly two years to design the solar-powered structure and get all the necessary approvals needed for the project to set sail.
"Working with special permits for things like the chicken, which require a special exhibition permit. Who knew? Apparently the Department of Health did," says John McGarvey, Waterpod's executive director.
The Waterpod's chickens provide eggs for the crew and composting for the plants. Nothing goes to waste on the Waterpod. Rainwater is used for drinking, washing and a sub-irrigation system.
"We can get about 50 tomatoes off one plant, with no chemicals, which is incredible," says Mattingly.
Lots of plants seem to be doing well on the Waterpod, including an enormous sunflower.
"It is not anything radioactive in the soil. It's just a genetic type of sunflower that just grows to mutant size," says McGarvey.
The crew could always use a few more hands on deck. Volunteers are welcome aboard to help with gardening or maintenance or whatever else they might have an interest in trying.
"We can definitely use some help with the chickens. We can definitely use a chicken expert on board," says McGarvey.
The Waterpod is open Thursday through Sunday to chicken experts and non-chicken experts alike. For more information on volunteering or visiting the floating site, visit www.thewaterpod.org.