This Floating Forest Helps Kids Learn About Sustainability Outside The Classroom

Let's get growing.


It's unlikely you'd see a massive garden floating down a river, but if you happen to be in New York City this time of year, you might just catch a glimpse of Swale, a floating food forest built on top of a barge. 

Founded in 2016 by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale travels to various piers throughout NYC and features edible, medicinal, and perennial plants. According to the Swale website, visitors can harvest herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the garden for free, and the forest is meant to "strengthen stewardship of public waterways and land, while working to shift policies that will increase the presence of edible perennial landscapes." 

Currently, Swale does this by working with Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice to run free public programming, and by working with the Bronx River Alliance, The Point and the New York City Parks Department to give youth in the South Bronx professional development opportunities and expanded access to public food. 

Those behind Swale aim to get students out of the classroom and into nature to interactively learn about sustainability, and our environment.

Marisa Prefer, the manager of Permaculture and Programs on Swale, speaks to some of the issues and questions Swale is meant to raise.  "We talk about natural dyes, so how can we use plants to color cloth? We have more science-based, STEAM workshops about water filtration," Prefer told Mashable. "Why we should care about our rivers and our water here in New York City ... What does it mean to steward land here in New York city as a kid growing up."

Swale is organized with the help of community groups and people like you. You can get involved by volunteering time, resources, and energy, or by hosting panels and workshops. 

You can find out more about Swale on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page. Check out more photos of the amazing floating forest below. 

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