Medieval and Renaissance

You Can Forage from the Floating Food Forest That’s Heading to NYC


Wyatt Marshall

Restaurants in even the biggest of megalopolises often tout their relationships with tiny idyllic farms, proudly telling you how they work directly with a farmer to bring you fresh fruit and vegetables from Eden—while outside the restaurant’s front door rats and pigeons preside over a kingdom of decay.

For the city-bound resident, fresh produce is almost always delivered through an intermediary. It’s often expensive, too. This summer, though, New Yorkers will have the chance to get in touch with nature and their food when a “floating food forest” moors at various spots around the city. The floating platform full of fruit and vegetable plants, dubbed Swale, is inviting the public aboard to forage for free food.

Swale is part public art and part public service, pushing sustainability in a variety of ways and hoping to challenge the idea that fresh food is a luxury. Its platform is made from repurposed shipping containers from the Port of NY/NJ, and many of the plants are perennials, so perhaps the barge will be around for longer than just the summer. The Swale project will also release a cookbook to help people use what they harvest.

“The question we really want to ask [is] almost utopian: What if healthy, fresh food could be a free public service and not just an expensive commodity?” Mary Mattingly, an NYC artist and Yale fellow who came up with the concept for Swale, told Tech Insider.

Swale will make its debut on June 28, and is currently slated to open at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Visitors will get to wander the barge and harvest food from any of more than 80 species of herbs, trees, and flowers. Among those that will be available for picking are chard, arugula, basil, thyme, bok choy, ramps, ginger, and blueberries.

Mattingly is working with local schools, gardeners, and organizations to pull off the endeavor; when it’s finished, you might see what looks like a weird, moving island on the Hudson or East River. If you do, head for it—a public park that you can eat is the best kind of public park. (And take your reusable grocery bag, as you probably don’t want to be the guy with plastic bags.)


This idea goes back to the pre-industrial idea of the commons, land that is common property upon which anyone in the area could graze livestock or harvest plant matter. This was largely lost to practical use through “scientific farming” and the “enclosure” movement which went through western European society during the 18th and early 19th century, reducing previously subsisting peasants to pauperism, and subjecting them to arrest for vagrancy, until the industrial revolution and factory jobs (at least in part) “solved” the problem.

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Masters of Social Gastronomy: The Flavor Battles! February 25, 2016

Masters of Social Gastronomy takes on the history and science of imitation ingredients! Historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman will explore the history of artificial food, from medieval feasts obsessed with disgusting foods like “meat pitchers” to the “Poison Squad,” a team of early 20th-century chemists who tested the safety of food additives. Brooklyn Brainery founder Jonathan Soma will dive into the science behind artificial flavorings, tracking the work of flavor chemists and uncovering the secrets of Juicy Fruit gum. There’ll even be a sample-heavy showdown where you get to definitively decide if there’s any difference between artificial and natural flavorings.

Admission includes one drink
Ages 21+ only

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Mon 09 2014 , by

Cafe Reggio

Cafe Reggio (est. 1927): If the assortment of dark Renaissance-era oil paintings, statues, and stained-glass windows aren’t enough of an indication that this tiny coffee shop is a classic, just ask consult local historians. Their claim: the cappuccino machine that still stands tall in Reggio, imported from Italy in 1902, was the first in America and essentially gave Americans their first taste of the beverage. At the time, the store was a barbershop that served clients 10-cent cups of coffee. It didn’t switch its focus to caffeinated beverages until 1927.…

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Henry Chapin and his early music ensemble will lead families in traditional dances and songs enjoyed in France and England 500 years ago. Children will try on costumes inspired by the books of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in the Morgan collection, make their own wool chaperons and hats, and try their hand at fabric dyeing using centuries-old processes. Come with your own homemade medieval costume.

Date: May 21, 2011
Hours: 2-5pm
Ages: Young elementary, Tween
Price: $8; $2 children

225 Madison Avenue
Manhattan, NY 10016


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The Renaissance comes alive as friends and families join this four-day May Day celebration. Each day will include a Maypole dance, martial demonstrations and swordplay, a fashion show depicting styles of the Tudor through Cavalier eras, period crafts, children’s games, archery, and a unique marketplace.

Date: May 14, 2011
Hours: 12- 5pm
Ages: ALL
Price: $7; $4 children 4-12, free children under 4

34 Muttontown Lane (off 25A) – 914-664-2733
East Norwich, NY 11732

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