by Ron Bernthal
Paris has been turning its urban rooftops into works of art. Where else in the world would beautiful mini-farms, filled with the brilliant colors and fragrances of plants and vegetables sprout from the city’s rooftops, many stories above the busy streets of the City of Light, and sometimes even below the streets.
The eco-farm of La Recyclerie, installed along the old railway line at Porte de Clignancourt, and the organic mushroom operation, La Caverne, located in an underground car park at Porte de La Chapelle, is producing tasty vegetables. Even the city’s Montparnasse Tower is rumored to be getting its own growing space, and an installation of an urban farm of over 3,200 square-feet has been established on the sun-splashed roof terrace of the Mercure Paris Boulogne Hotel in the Boulogne Billancourt neighborhood. Created by Agripolis, a Parisian-based urban rooftop farm developer, the aerial growing spaced provides fresh produce to the hotel’s restaurant.
Currently finishing construction in the south-west district of Paris will be Nature Urbaine, covering approximately 151,000 square-feet, with planhs to grow more than 30 different plant species, as well as producing close to 2,200 pounds of fruit and vegetables every day during high season. Created by Agripolis, the operation will be run by about 20 gardeners, who will be using only organic methods in the growing process.
Located on the top of Expo Porte de Versailles’ Pavilion 6, a major exhibition complex in the 15th arrondissement, the rooftop farm and garden will have its own on-site restaurant and bar with capacity for about 300 people. The famous Parisian rooftop restaurant brand Le Perchoir will take over the panoramic terrace of Pavilion 6 and open a chic bar and restaurant, whose menu will of course include many of the organic products grown on-site.
The high-quality fruits and vegetables of Nature Urbaine is not only for visitors looking for a healthy meal grown without pesticides, but the venue will also offer garden space for rentals by city residents, as well as workshops and educational visits for children. There are 135 rental plots of 10 square-feet each, and reserving a plot (320 euros or about US$362) for a period of one year gives the right to grow your own produce, along with a welcome kit and an access badge to the farm.
“The urban farm will also supply the inhabitants of the south of Paris and neighboring municipalities, directly or through distribution, to collective catering outlets and hotels,” said Pascal Hardy, founder of Agripolis. The construction of the urban rooftop farm is part of a larger project for the modernization of Paris’ Porte de Versailles, initiated in 2015 by Viparis, the venue’s manager. The popular exhibition center is now becoming even ‘greener’ thanks to the urban farm on the roof of the Expo’s Pavilion 6.