In New York City, where land is valuable and developers can rake in big profits, community gardens are being uprooted to make way for more profitable ventures. As a result, some families are losing a key source of fresh food. But what if members of the public had access to a site where they could pick freshly grown fruits and vegetables for free? And what if the space it occupied was not at risk for development?

That site now exists. In July, a barge carrying a “food forest” of fruit, nut,...

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