Pick fruit, vegetables from a floating garden on New York's East River

A floating apple orchard and garden on a 40m barge docks in New York City's East River.VIDEO: REUTERS
NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A floating apple orchard and garden bob on the East River and await the public on a barge, previously used to haul sand, in Brooklyn, New York.
Swale, a floating food forest, and cider company Strongbow, collaborated to create a space where people can pick fresh food from their garden for free.

Swale's founder, Ms Mary Mattingly, says: 'In the city now there are 100 acres (40.5ha) of community garden space but there are actually 30,000 acres of park space. And we imagine this could be a potential for food sources and for especially fresh, healthy, delicious food that parks could adopt. So we wanted to inspire the Parks Department. We could do this edible food forest legally on the water in New York City but not yet on public land. So that's really what we're reaching for, is to influence public land and to see if this works well, it could be a model for New York City's public spaces."

Once people walk on the barge, they are greeted with the smell of chocolate -- that is because Ms Mattingly uses mulch from a Brooklyn chocolate maker, taken from the shell of the cocoa bean.

And Swale is also self-sustainable.

Ma Mattingly adds: "We worked with a scientist to devise a system where we can pull water from the East River and clean it and use it to water the plants so the whole system is pretty much here. It's like we, all of these plants are perennials so they come back stronger every year. The soil increases in health, the more that the perennials work with it and we use the river water."

People are welcome to walk on the barge and pick herbs, fruit, and vegetables and in the fall, apples, from their apple trees growing on a small hill.

The food forest is open to the public and will stay docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 through June 30 with events promoting gardening and urban food forestry.

Swale will later journey to the Bronx to Concrete Plant Park and will settle at Hudson River Park in the fall.