When my colleague told me that I’d be visiting a “floating food forest”, I didn’t know what to expect. I took the subway to Brooklyn Heights and meandered through beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was a stunning spring day and the views of the city across the East River were spectacular. I approached Pier 6 to find Swale, a rustic barge peacefully docked and bustling with activity. I climbed onboard and met a number of volunteers who were busy planting trees, tilling soil and harvesting herbs, fruits and vegetables. Swale offers educational programming with classes such as Herbal Ethnography, Permaculture & Regenerative Urban Agriculture, and Color Wheel Dye Labs, where you can experiment with the rich palette of colors using living materials aboard the barge.
Eugenia Manwelyan, Swale’s Event Organizer, was kind enough to give me a tour. She informed me that the barge was once used for hauling sand to construction sites before it was repurposed for growing food. She stressed that Swale relies on the principle that commons can be sustainably managed where people know each other, trust each other, and work together in caring for a place.
I have never seen anything quite like it. It’s hard to believe that this repurposed barge is now overflowing with plant life, with volunteers, and with a community of people who are providing sustainable and local ingredients to areas where this is typically out of reach.
Swale is special. It is not your typical event space. When you host an event at Swale, you help Swale stay afloat so they can continue to offer free public programs. The jaw-dropping views of Manhattan are the perfect backdrop for weddings, cocktail parties, fundraisers, and corporate team-building exercises. You are sure to have a memorable and impactful event at Swale.
Swale is docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park through June 30th, then in the Bronx in July and August, and will return to Manhattan or Greenpoint for September and October. Visit swaleny.org to learn more.