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Urban Farms

The world's largest urban farm is opening in Paris and will soon produce 1,000kg of organic produce every day.

Set on the roof of a six-storey building in the French capital, in the busy and fashionable Marais district, this city farm is at the heart of an urban food revolution in Paris.

Opened in 2017 by Agripolis, it's part of a series of projects, called Parisculteurs, which will see 100 hectares of vegetation planted across the city by the end of the year. Agripolis alone has 10 farms running or in planning around the city.

The farm’s vertical system is closed-loop, doesn’t waste any water, and doesn’t use pesticides. In season, it produces some 20-30,000 portions of fruit, salad and vegetables. It has come to be a blueprint for changing how the city eats.

“We don’t throw anything away,” says Pascal Hardy, an agronomist and the founder of Agripolis, who only entered the world of urban farming in 2015 by growing vegetables on the roof of his Parisian apartment.

“My principal motivation has always been environmental. Our farms are great for biodiversity and efficiency, and they have a very low carbon footprint.”

Agripolis is also set to unveil a 14,000sq m farm atop the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, an exhibition centre in the south-west of the city. When it opens at the end of June, it will be the largest urban rooftop farm in the world – and the largest urban farm of any kind in Europe. With more than 30 different plant species, the Porte de Versailles site will produce around 1,000kg of goods every day in high season. The first harvest of greens is expected after a month.

Visitors will be able to eat at a 300-cover on-site restaurant, attend educational tours and even lease small vegetable plots of their own. The all-organic produce, cultivated by around 20 gardeners, will be grown using aeroponic vertical farming methods. “Our produce will be available across the whole of the city in a variety of shops, restaurants and schemes,” adds Hardy.

There’s evidence that Hardy’s urban farms will be a success. “We’ve had a huge demand for their products, with customers asking specifically for Agripolis produce,” says Jeremy, an assistant at a nearby shop that has been stocking food from the Marais farm for six months. “We just need to cross the road to get the products.”

For now, Hardy’s main challenge is reducing the relatively premium cost of city-grown food, although advances in technology mean it continues to become cheaper. Coupled with low emissions and almost no “food miles”, the few extra cents could be a small price to pay

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