Swale Brings Farm-Grown Food to a Bronx River Barge

Food is being grown on the Bronx River. Curator Amanda McDonald Crowley says they’ve got "squash and peppers and kale," in addition to "herbs like thyme and rosemary and several different types of oregano and basil."

There are also blueberries, bananas and much more being harvested on a barge that's docked at Concrete Plant Park in the South Bronx through August.

The 130-foot by 40-foot floating platform is the creation of the non-profit organization Swale, whose founder wants the city to explore growing fruits and vegetables in parks as a way to provide food to residents.

"Going forward we can work towards policy change in the city where right now it's still illegal to grow public food in public spaces and what we hope is that this can set a good example and we can potentially move forward with starting to change some of those old rules," said Mary Mattingly, the founder of Swale.

Mattingly says the barge is partly a farm, and partly a public art project, that explores a new way of living. After a year of planning, the first planting occurred this spring. And starting Saturday, the barge will be open to the public. Tours will be given by volunteers from a local environmental activist group.

Dariella Rodriguez of Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice is excited for the installation, saying, "I feel so happy to see young people engaging in such a way with nature and with something that's going to impact the community and impact the world."

The fruits and vegetables on the barge aren't just for show, either. Folks who visit can walk away with them. "When people come on here, they'll be able to tour through and pick whatever they want," said Mattingly.

Swale is also hoping that visitors will give back as well by bringing plants to replace those taken. This urban floating farm will stay docked at Concrete Plant Park Bronx until August 14th and then continue its journey, making stops in other parts of the city.

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