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Rooftop gardens could feed Paris

Paris will soon be producing much more of its own fruit, vegetables, herbs, fish, mushrooms, honey and even beer, after the mairie announced the winners of the first phase of its Parisculteurs urban agriculture project. 

The capital wants to use rooftops, garages, terraces and other wasteland to turn 100 hectares of unused land ‘green’ by 2020.
It will devote a third of the space to urban agriculture, giving biodiversity a boost in the densely populated city, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and forging social links and links with nature.

In the first phase of the project, deputy mayor Pénélope Komitès, in charge of the city’s green spaces, revealed 33 winning proposals submitted by architects, start-ups, and charities for sites on rooftops and terraces, an underground car park, reservoirs and wasteland to create farms, gardens and living walls.
“At a time when big cities are debating how to deal with the challenges of climate and food supply on a local level, urban greening and urban agriculture represent both an opportunity and a solution,” Ms Komitès said.

She said techniques including planting living walls and starting rooftop farms helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fought the erosion of biodiversity, conserved rainwater, and gave city dwellers access to nature.
“The project creates social links and allows everyone access to high quality, local food.”
Together, the winning proposals will produce around 425,000kg of fruit and vegetables, 95kg of honey, 3,000kg of fish, 24,000kg of mushrooms and 8,000 litres of beer per year.
Armand Renard of the Toits Vivants association, which was chosen to create a micro farm on the roof of the Jean Dame gym in the 2nd arrondissement, told Connexion: “Parisculteurs represented a great opportunity to submit our project. And above all, it’s a commitment from the city of Paris.”
The farm plans to produce around 500kg of fruit and vegetables per year as well as eggs and honey, while a shared garden will provide an opportunity for local residents and schoolchildren to learn about the project, Mr Renard said.

While other, less densely-populated cities around the world with more available land might be more obviously suited to urban agriculture, Mr Renard said he hoped the Parisculteurs project would demonstrate that forgotten spaces like rooftops could make a big contribution.
It gets away from the idea that there is not enough land to feed the planet and Mr Renard said: “We’re starting to see reinforced rooftops in new building projects, whereas a few years ago that was the first thing that would be dropped if a project was too expensive.”

The Parisculteurs projects also aim to help people back into work with one, La Serre Volante, creating the equivalent of 15 full-time jobs.
The project, led by events company Noctis and urban agriculture start-up Toupager, will see the rooftop of the Françoise Sagan library in the 10th arrondissement transformed into an urban vegetable garden.

It will produce around 750kg of fruit and vegetables a year to be served in an on-site bar and restaurant – not to mention enough hops for 8,000 litres of beer per year.
In the 18th arrondissement, start-up Cycloponics will turn the Raymond Queneau car park into ‘La Caverne’, an underground microfarm.
It will grow mushrooms on coffee grounds, vegetables under LED lights and micro greens on walls and aims to harvest 30,000kg of vegetables and 24,000kg of mushrooms a year to sell to local residents and create eight jobs.

The first set of Parisculteurs projects will cover 5.5 hectares, with a second round of projects due to be announced next year.

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