Farm on a Paris rooftop: Urban farm aims to be Europe’s largest

The first phase of a vast urban farming project in Paris is now under way following a two-month delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Set on a Paris rooftop, the farm is set to grow over the next two years to become the largest urban farm in Europe.

The farm, on a rooftop of the Paris Exhibition Centre in the south-west of the city, currently covers an area of 4,000m², but those behind the project plan to expand the agricultural space to 14,000m² by 2022.

They hope to be able produce around 1,000kg of fruit and vegetables every day in high season thanks to a team of around 20 farmers while providing a global model for sustainable farming where produce is grown locally and according to the seasons.

“The goal is to locally supply healthy, pesticide-free products to local businesses, company restaurants, and to farming associations in a nearby area,” Agripolis president Pascal Hardy told AFP.

Along with commercial farming, locals are able to rent space on the rooftop to grow their own fruit and veg, while visitors can sample the produce at an on-site restaurant.

The farm is part of what appears to be a growing trend in the French capital to produce and consume food locally, with a number of urban farming projects springing up around the city in recent years, while Paris City Hall has committed to creating 30 hectares of urban farming space in the city in 2020.

“The real trend today is towards quality local products, more so than organic,” said Hardy.

“We’re at the top of the organic wave, but we’re on the way down, and the challenge now is to be able to show how the products were generated, and also to show that they don’t come from the other side of the planet, like beans from Kenya, for example, or from deep in Spain with farming practices that are not very virtuous.”

Source: Farm on a Paris rooftop: Urban farm aims to be Europe’s largest

Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Aside from wine sales, the French agricultural sector is struggling to compete with cheaper, more intensively-farmed goods from overseas—are French people finding it difficult to buy French food?

France is incredibly protective of its agricultural sector—it has been the sticking point between France and the U.S. in the negotiation of their new trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  President Donald Trump has been threatening to increase tariffs on French food as a result of France not agreeing to include the agricultural sector in the trading agreements (France wants only non-auto “industrial goods” included and specifically not meat, fruit or wine).

Part of the problem is that France is resistant to allowing food to be mass-produced or intensively farmed; it wants to preserve the traditional ways of farming, of which it is proud. This means though, that food is much cheaper when it is produced by farmers in other European countries who don’t adhere to as strict agricultural standards as the French.

Christiane Lambert, chairwoman of the French Farmers’ Union reported in The Times, that President Emmanuel Macron’s approach to agriculture was pricing French food out of the market. “He told us to go upmarket but in the first six months of this year we imported a lot more poultry from Poland and Germany because it is cheaper,” she said. It has come to the point when French people cannot afford to buy their own food.

The deficit to the French economy is about €300 million, but many believe it’s a worrying sign and a marker of the health of the agricultural sector in general—even French cheese is suffering as consumers are increasingly turning to cheese from Ireland or the Netherlands (the growth appears to be in more “industrially-produced” cheeses for pizza toppings).

The only part of the food and drinks sector which is buoyant is the alcohol industry, where sales of wine and cognac are still far outselling imports, notably due to a huge increase of sales in the U.S and China of French wine. The French government reported in May that this success might be masking a more dire warning for the French agricultural sector in general.

Source FORBES: Can The French Still Afford To Eat Their Own Food?

Beyond glyphosate: French vineyards shift away from controversial weedkiller

France’s wine industry can become “the first in the world without glyphosate”, President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday at the Paris Agriculture Fair. But is foregoing the controversial herbicide possible? FRANCE 24 spoke with vintners.

At France’s largest, if temporary, farm – the country’s annual agricultural fair, held at Porte de Versailles exhibition grounds on the southern rim of Paris – it was barely 10am on Monday and Xavier Martin was already enjoying a glass of red wine.

At a stand showcasing his wine from Irouléguy in the Basque country, the 58-year-old had just polished off a fried egg and a slice of grilled bacon. “Wine, I was born in it,” the fifth-generation winegrower says. A salon jury had just rewarded his 2017 Mignaberry rosé with a gold medal.

Martin, who gave up on synthetic herbicides 20 years ago, feels strongly about glyphosate. “We must keep our soils clean, just as we received them from our ancestors, to pass them on to our children,” the bearded vintner says.

“These grounds will outlive us. We must work to preserve them.” Continue reading “Beyond glyphosate: French vineyards shift away from controversial weedkiller”