Source: Nikki Ekstein, “With Floating Farm, New York Looks to the Future of Public Parks,” Bloomberg
New York, NY (March 31, 2017) – Public foraging farms are sprouting up from coast to coast, but in New York, a farm full of fruit trees and other crops will float to locations in three New York City boroughs, and visitors will be invited to enjoy nature by literally picking, snipping, and sowing to their hearts’ content.
Located on a 5,000-square-foot barge, “Swale” will include 4,000 square feet of solar-powered growing space, including a perennial garden, an aquaponics area, and an apple orchard sponsored by Heineken USA’s Strongbow Apple Ciders atop a large man-made hill. The hill allows deeper root space for fruiting trees.
The project will be open to the public, but it’s more interactive exhibit than floating Central Park; only 75 people can board at once, and docents will usher guests around the grounds. Free educational workshops will include “painting with plants” and “dying natural fabrics,” and volunteers will explain how thoughtful permaculture planning can create a virtually self-sustaining farm.
Founder Mary Mattingly wants to make people work harder for public spaces, and public spaces work harder for people. She wants to create a model for sustainable urban farming. She wants to create an educational space. And she wants to eradicate the problem of food deserts in blighted urban neighborhoods.
“We don’t have much access to stewardship in New York City,” Mattingly told Bloomberg, “so we wanted to highlight and cultivate opportunities around that idea. People care for spaces that they can pick food from.”
That’s exactly what appealed to the approving committee at the New York City Parks Department. “We are trying to prioritize community engagement,” said Bram Gunther, co-director of the Urban Field Station, who cited a growing field of study that believes that community involvement, empowerment, and land management must all go hand in hand. “This project will act like a magnet, in a way, and inspire people to civic action,” he added.
Read the full article: With Floating Farm, New York Looks to the Future of Public Parks