A Forest Floats on the Bronx River, With Free Produce
By Alexandra S. Levine
In a South Bronx forest, the ground sways as visitors collect blueberries, onions and wild carrots. The plants bob up and down as guests gather oregano or basil to add to their next meal. The floating forest on the Bronx River has one main purpose: to engage New Yorkers in a conversation about the benefits of shared, public food by offering crops to pick and eat.
“Not everyone has a garden, or access to earth, and it’s expensive. So how do we work together to get around that?” said Marisa Prefer, who manages the public programs for Swale, the floating forest project by the artist Mary Mattingly that started a year ago.
The artist transformed a 130-foot barge, once used for hauling sand to construction sites, into a public food forest with free edible and medicinal treasures. Last week, the floating green space moved from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park to Concrete Plant Park in the South Bronx, one of the largest food deserts in the country, where healthy, fresh options are hard to come by, and on Friday afternoon it opened to the public.
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