A 150,695-square-foot organic rooftop garden will open in the heart of Paris in 2020, according to the Guardian.
More than 30 different plant species will be grown on the roof and gardeners will be able to harvest a metric ton worth of fruit every day. The fresh produce will be used to feed local communities and supply a restaurant in the building. The project will use state-of-the-art watering technology and doesn’t require soil, making the farming process incredibly resource-efficient.
This verdant feat of engineering will be the largest such farming project in the world and its realization provides a window into a rapidly growing form of agriculture that could significantly improve global food security, combat climate change, and reduce air pollution.
“The goal is to make the farm a globally recognized model for sustainable production,” Pascal Hardy, founder of Agripolis, the urban-farming company behind the project, told the Guardian. “We’ll be using quality products, grown in rhythm with nature’s cycles, all in the heart of Paris.”
Urban farming has become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether it’s a community garden plot, rooftop farming, or vertical agriculture, the shift of food production to cities makes sense on many levels, according to the urban planning website Agritecture.
First, urban agriculture takes advantage of otherwise vacant spaces. All flat rooftops throughout a city can theoretically be converted into a garden that grows fruits and vegetables.
It also helps to clean the air and cool down environments. Cities are notoriously polluted and hot, two problems that are exacerbated by climate change. The more green space a city has, the cleaner and cooler the atmosphere becomes because plants filter out airborne toxins and don’t absorb heat like concrete and asphalt surfaces do.
Buildings also account for the majority of a city’s greenhouse gas emissions because of the energy required to regulate temperatures and provide electricity. Urban farming can help to balance out these emissions.
Finally, urban farming helps to improve the food security of an area. The United Nations recently warned in a sweeping report that countries around the world will experience increasing food insecurity in the decades ahead if climate change intensifies and the exploitation of natural resources continues at current levels.
Urban agriculture can’t compete with the yields generated by the vast open spaces of farming hotspots, but it can be an organic and highly efficient supplement.
Vertical farming, in particular, doesn’t require chemical treatment to keep pests and diseases at bay, uses less water than traditional farming, and doesn’t have a significant carbon footprint, because the harvest doesn’t have to be transported far. They can also reduce food waste, because the produce can be rapidly delivered to customers, unlike at remote farms.
A vertical farm in Seattle, for example, produces 4.5 million pounds of fresh greens annually.
Countries such as Singapore are betting big on the success of urban farming to improve food security.
The Parisian government launched a program called Parisculteurs, with the intent of planting 100 hectares of vegetation in the city by 2020.
Once Agripolis’ massive farms starts yielding fruits and vegetables, the city will be well on its way to achieving this goal.