We visited Swale, an art project started by an artist named Mary Mattingly. Swale is a floating food forest open to the public, where anyone can come on board and harvest herbs, vegetables and fruits. We talked about public art and social sculpture, and about how Swale encourages us to think about what it would be like to have public access to free, healthy food growing in New York City.On board, we met with Swale’s Education Manager, Marisa, and got to try many of the herbs, vegetables and fruits growing! Some of our favorites were cilantro and mustard flowers, lemon balm and anise hyssop. We learned about how some of these plants can be medicine too! We talked about how we can carry around a plant called yarrow and use it if we get a bleeding wound, or we can make bee balm into an antibacterial tea. We shared our collective knowledge about how to use many of the things growing on Swale. For example, we learned that in different cultures, Mugwort (considered a weed in our city) is used to thicken soup, to flavor sweets, in a Chinese healing practice called moxibustion, and even to make our dreams more colorful!
After our tour, New New Yorkers donated some participants’ favorite plants from their home countries to Swale. We planted lemongrass and thai basil. It was a collective effort!
Thank you to all who joined! It was great to spend time with you and I hope to see you again soon.