Urban rooftop farming on a Parisian Landscape.
Imagine you’re walking between rows and rows of fruits, vegetables, and flora of all kinds. The bees are gently humming, and a breeze plays across your face. Now picture one more thing, you’re not in the middle of an expansive countryside farm, but on a rooftop. In Paris. That’s right, urban farming is crawling its way across rooftops, providing agricultural solutions to the grand cosmopolis that is Paris. Inspired by the success of contemporary urban farmers, Paris City Hall is now working on dedicating 100 hectares to covering the city’s rooftops, walls, and open space into urban farms through the Les Parisculteurs Initiative.
The worlds largest rooftop garden
In the 18th century, ¾ of the area around Paris was devoted solely to farming. With the city’s ever-growing industrialization, the landscape rapidly changed from rolling green farmland to a Baroque and Classical architectural facade. By the 19th century, agricultural production was virtually non-existent due to a lack of land. Fast-forward to today and we see progressive minds creating modern solutions to this problem. Notably, the French research institute, Agripolis International is presently building a 14,000m2 rooftop garden on top of the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center, making it the largest of its kind in the world. It will be home to over 30 different species of plants and produce 1,000 kg of fruits and vegetables per day during high season. Pascal Hardy, engineer and sustainable development consultant of Agripolis International had this to say about this grand agricultural undertaking: “Our vision is a city in which flat roofs and abandoned surfaces are covered with these new growing systems. Each will contribute directly to feeding urban residents who today represent the bulk of the world’s population,” he commented to the Guardian Newspaper.
A garden on the rooftop of L’Opéra Bastille?
Agripolis International’s 14,000m2 farm is certainly the largest, but Parisian rooftops have seen gardens of all sizes springing up around the city. For example, Communauté Facteur Graine, located on top of a post office, produces vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers for the 500 employees that work below in the city. It has become a neighborhood staple for providing fresh produce to the local community. Also worth mentioning is the 2,500m2 rooftop farm on top of L’Opéra Bastille. Who would’ve thought that you’d find vegetables such as zucchini, cherry tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, et al on top of a world-famous opera house? Lucky are the employees and local restauranteurs that can avail themselves of these delicious crops. Being one of the several Les Parisculteurs urban farms, it is evident that the French government is making strides toward a greener, sustainable Paris one rooftop at a time.
Besides the pure engineering ingenuity of rooftop farming and its incredible production rate, the environmental benefits are quite impressive. The gardens absorb harmful CO2 emissions and cleanse the air by releasing oxygen in its place. Other benefits include stormwater runoff management, safe habitats for wildlife, increased quality of food production, and insulating effects which dramatically reduce energy consumption. Can you imagine the impact rooftop gardens could have if they were on every single roof of Paris? .
A greener Paris
As you can see, urban rooftop farms have proved to be fruitful to Paris in more ways than one. Parisians now have access to higher quality fruits and vegetables and can even rent rooftop garden space to grow their own produce. One day we hope to by flying over Paris and see roof gardens coloring the city green. We wonder what the 18th-century farmers in Paris would have to say about all this. Who knows, but we definitely know Paris’s rooftop gardens make us say Oh la la!
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