Nature Based Solutions - Implementation Models Database

Urban forest

Swale_Floating Food Forest

A short description of the NSB

In the last years, in New York, a group of designers and artists proposed to transform a shipping barge into a verdant floating farm, creating “sculptural ecosystems in urban spaces”. Initiated by the artist Mary Mattingly and realized in 2016 after a kick-starter campaign, Swale is one of these projects, floating gardens filled with edible plants like berry bushes, apple trees and lime trees as well as different kinds of vegetables. The list includes nearly 100 plant species. The idea behind the concept is to offer fresh, free food as a public service. Swale is completely powered by solar panels and it recycles its own water thanks to a system of pumps and sand filters. It also collects rainwater, and it can desalinate and purify the brackish river water if need be. Mattingly’s idea is to make this edible forest open to the public and to dock it at different places in New York like Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, etc. The floating farm is the first of the three phased SWALE project. The two other parts entail the creation of permanent “food forests” on public land in New York City and taking actions to affect policy change.

NBS Implementation context
Location New York (USA)
Status (from - to) Project delivered (2016)
NBS Scale Object
NBS Impacts scale Object Neighbourhood City
Urban density/ Soil consumption High (dense city center)
NBS Typology

NBS Uban Challenges
Climate Issues Climate mitigation
Climate adaptation
Other 0
Urban water management and quality Urban water management and quality
Flood management
Other 0
Air Quality Air quality at district/city scale
Air quality locally
Other 0
Urban Space and Biodiversity Biodiversity
Urban space design
Urban space management
Other 0
Urban Regeneration and Soil Air quality at district/city scale
Other 0
Resource efficiency Food, energy and water
Raw materials
Other 0
Public health and well-being Acustic
Quality of life
Other 0
Environmental justice and social cohesion Environmental Justice: Recognition
Environmental Justice: Procedural Justice
Environmental Justice: Distributional Justice
Environmental Justice: Capabilities
Environmental Justice: Responsibility
Social Cohesion
Other 0
Urban planning and governance Urban planning and form
Governance in planning
Other 0
People Security Control of crimes
Control of extraordinary events
Other 0
Green economy Circular economy
Bioeconomy activities
Direct economic value of NBS
Other 0
NBS Stakeholders & Governance

Initial actors (Leaders) Market Private sector
Involved actors Community NGOÍs Citizens, Market Private sector
Ecological scale Local scale green area City scale green networks
Governance model CLUSTER 3: Private-private partnerships Sustainable Local Enterprise Networks (SLEN)
NBS Financial aspects

The group of artists hosted a kick-starter campaign to help fund the project. On 2 May 2017, 79 backers have contributed a total of $6.100 (€5.000). The fundraising goal is $32.000 (€25.800). The project is also being partly funded through contributions from A Blade of Grass, an advocacy group that supports art that facilitates social change, and the Rolin Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that funds art, education and cultural heritage programs.

Global (estimated) cost of the project 20k€ - 50k€ (€25.800)
Financing mechanism CLUSTER 3: Citizen inclusion Cooperatives
NBS Business Models Archetype
Technological Substitute with renewables and natural processes
Social Adopt a stewardship role
Organisational Re-purpose the business for society/environment Develop scale-up solutions
NBS Success and limiting factors
Process enablers
Knowledge Generation of evidence Lesson learnt through implemented projects Research on benefits, Collaboration Networks
Governance Process efficiencies Collaboration, Self- governance Grassroots innovations and transition initiatives
Economy Self-financing and self-management
Process inibitors
Knowledge -
Governance Institutional barriers Bureaucracy and unsupportive legal frameworks, Complexity of governance structure Apathy
Economy -
IM Keywords
  • Sustainable Local Enterprise Networks (SLEN)

  • Local scale green area

  • City scale green networks

  • Cooperatives

  • Substitute with renewables and natural processes

  • Adopt a stewardship role

  • Re-purpose the business for society/environment

  • Develop scale-up solutions

  • Adaptive governance

  • Local scale green area

  • City scale green networks

  • Public financing

  • Substitute with renewable and natural processes

  • Encourage sufficiency

  • Develop scale-up solutions