Nature and Biodiversity

Plans for urban farming in Paris have gone through the roof

A new campaign wants to cover 247 acres of rooftops in Paris with greenery by 2020. Image: Reuters/ Philippe Wojazer

Aimee Lutkin
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The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, was elected in 2014 with the intention to improve the city's green spaces as a part of her platform. CNN reports that Hidalgo has made good on her initiatives, and both private and public enterprises have risen to the challenge of making Paris rich in biodiversity as well as cultural capital. In 2016, her administration launched Parisculteurs, a campaign that is working to cover 247 acres of rooftops and walls in Paris with greenery by 2020.

One third of that greenery will specifically be set aside for urban farming. To date, 74 organizations have signed a charter to work with the city on planning this enormous enterprise. The city has already approved 75 projects for development, which are estimated to produce more than 500 tons of vegetation.

The deputy mayor of Paris, Penelope Komites, is in charge of all the parks and green spaces in the city. She thinks that Parisculteurs will serve as an innovative model for other cities who are reconsidering how an urban landscape can incorporate more of the natural world.

"Paris not only intends to produce fruit and vegetables but also [plans to] invent a new urban model ... Citizens want new ways to get involved in the city's invention and be the gardeners," Komites told CNN.

She added that, until now, the time hasn't been right, but people are finally starting to get it.

"Three years ago, people laughed at my plan. Today, citizens are producing [produce] on roofs and in basements. We are also asked by numerous cities around the world to present the Parisian approach," she said. And they already have their success stories.

Take, for example, La Chambeaudie Farm, a project run by agriculture start-up Aéromate. The 5,380 square-foot farm is located on top of a medical center owned by the Paris Metro.

An urban farm on a rooftop in the heart of Paris. Image: Aeromate
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La Chambeaudie started shortly after Parisculteurs was announced in 2016, but now grows over 40 varieties of plants and herbs using a hydroponic system that uses water infused with nutrients, rather than depending on soil. They sell their produce to restaurants and grocery stores. Aéromate was approved for a second farm, which they built on the rooftop of a real estate group building in central Paris, and are working on plans to set up third farm at The Duperré School of Applied Arts. The potential to grow in many respects is there for urban farmers with Parisculteurs.

"We've seen a real craze among Parisians to participate in making the city more green," said Komites. "Urban agriculture is a real opportunity for Paris. It contributes to the biodiversity and to the fight against climate change."

And it also means jobs. According to Komites, Parisculteurs has created 120 full-time jobs. The possibilities within and enthusiasm for the project makes 2020 seem like an extremely modest goal for making Paris green.

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