Floating apple orchard grows on barge in New York

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.

"In the city now there are 100 acres 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," said Swale founder, Mary Mattingly.

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New York's floating apple orchard
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New York's floating apple orchard

A woman walks off a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 2, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

A person works on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

A running shoe is planted with plants on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

People stand on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

People stand on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

A piano is planted with flowers on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

People work on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

People work on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

People walk past a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Apple blossoms are pictured on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Apple blossoms are pictured on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

A pair of boots is planted with flowers on a floating barge, which is planted with fruit trees, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, as part of the Swale project called a collaborative floating forest, in the East River in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., May 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

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

And Swale is also self-sustainable.

"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.

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