In the Paris neighborhood of Le Marais—a chic zone known for its rich, multicultural roots and gastronomic diversity—a major rooftop farm is sprouting. Twenty gardeners will tend to 30 different kinds of plants to produce heaps of organic, nutrient-rich vegetables for the community and adjacent food establishments.
"Our fresh produce will be used to feed the inhabitants across the southwest of the city—either directly, through veg box schemes, or via shops, hotels, and canteens—thereby helping reduce food miles," says Pascal Hardy, founder of urban-farming company Agripolis.
Agripolis’s innovative aeroponic design grows produce without the use of pesticides or soil, and a closed-circuit watering system eliminates contaminates. Plants climb vertical trellises and absorb water and liquified nutrients via mist. It’s quicker and more efficient than traditional farms, and it makes for a tastier, more fragrant fruit.
Accompanying the urban farm will be a new rooftop restaurant run by area group Le Perchoir, whose principal location touts an on-site herb garden. While gazing out over Le Marais, visitors will dine on produce that’s been grown, and then dollied over, from just paces away—a farm-to-table experience, if ever one existed.
Urban settings are becoming more and more dense, increasing demand for fresh food that isn't shipped in from farmland miles away. Agripolis doesn't need a crystal ball: "Our vision is a city in which flat roofs and abandoned surfaces are covered with these new growing systems," says Hardy. "Each will contribute directly to feeding urban residents who today represent the bulk of the world’s population."
Produce farming is already seeing a revolution in cities worldwide, and the massive new rooftop farm—slated for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the spring of 2020—is just one coup in a series initiated by the city of Paris. The Parisculteurs project has committed to planting 250 acres of vegetation across the capital. Soon, there will be a farming promenade beneath the raised metro line at Barbès, and an eco farm La Recyclerie already sits along an old railway line at Porte de Clignancourt.
In addition to providing fresh greens to the community, the farm in Le Marais will invite residents to attend educational tours and special events, and to grow their very own crops. Community growers can lease a small plot, and they'll get their own customized wooden crates to work.
With support from the city of Paris, Agripolis hopes to reconnect their community with their food sources to foster environmental and economic resilience. They say, "If we can create a model that is commercially viable, rather than having to rely on goodwill and subsidies, that will help urban farms to become sustainable in their own right."
Hardy believes the farm will be profitable after just one year, setting a very realistic bar for other cities seeking to spur urban agriculture projects.
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