More and more people are coming to understand the benefits of fresh, whole foods, and seeking to either buy locally or grow their own. Because such a large percentage of people in the modern world, especially those in developed countries, live in cities and dense suburbs, the idea of growing our own food can seem impractical. But urban farming is steadily growing in popularity, and more cities are embracing and supporting the movement.
Paris has recently become a hotspot for urban farming, and the parisian government is planning to convert one third of the city’s green space to urban farms. The idea began to take shape in 2014, when Anne Hidalgo was elected Mayor. She announced her intention to make Paris a greener city, and the city’s government responded by launching the Parisculteurs project in 2016. The program plans to bring vegetation to 100 hectares of the city’s rooftops and walls by 2020, and 30 of those hectares are to be dedicated to urban farms. A charter to work with the city to develop urban agriculture has been signed by 74 companies and public institutions.
Deputy mayor of Paris Penelope Komites is responsible for the city’s parks and green spaces. “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,” shetold CNN. “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.”
The plan is building on a movement that had already begun in Paris, and some successful urban farms were already operating in the city before the plan was announced. One such farm is that of the cafeLa REcyclerie. Built in a former train station, the cafe is part of a 10,000 square foot farm that produces more than 150 different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The food grown in the farm is served in the cafe, and the farm offers workshops and educational programs for members of the local community and school groups.
Since Parisculteurs launched in 2016, numerous businesses have embraced the plan. So far 75 projects have been approved by the city, accounting for 15 hectares of urban farms capable of producing 500 tons of produce.Aéromate is one such businesses, an agricultural start up that operates La Chambeaudie Farm, a hydroponic farm of on the 5,000 square foot roof of a medical center. The farm produces more than 40 varieties of vegetables and herbs, using a hydroponic system that wastes 90% less water than common soil based land farming. La Chambeaudie sells produce to local grocery stores and restaurants, and often the produce is sold on the same day it is harvested.
Deputy mayor Komites touts the potential of urban farming to create jobs in addition to the positive environmental impact. According to her the first season of the Parisculteurs program created 120 full-time jobs. “We’ve seen a real craze among Parisians to participate in making the city more green,” she says. “Urban agriculture is a real opportunity for Paris. It contributes to the biodiversity and to the fight against climate change.”