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On a roof of the RATP, a vegetable farm

Ⓒ AFP – Benjamin Cremel – | An employee of the start-up Aeromate monitors plantations on the roof of a RATP building in Paris on August 24, 2017

Salads, zucchini, aromatic herbs in abundance … The harvest is good for the “farm” installed since this summer on a roof of the RATP.

New example of an urban agriculture booming, the kitchen garden extends on 450 m2, on the roof terrace of the medical center of the Régie located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris.

Between two train passages – from the neighboring Gare de Lyon – the little noise of the drip in the pots is heard. On the horizon, the Sacré-Coeur, the tip of the Eiffel Tower.

Ⓒ AFP – Benjamin CREMEL – | Aeromate start-up employee monitors plantations of vegetables and aromatic herbs on roof of RATP building in Paris on August 24, 2017

Supported by the Régie and the municipal operation “Paris-culteurs”, this is the first project of a young start-up, Aéromate, which aims here 31 tonnes of annual harvest.

The installation is in hydroponics: alignments of plants in jars filled with clay balls (without soil, too heavy), constantly watered, fed minerals. Roman salad, sorrel, tomatoes, mint, basil … seem to please.

The RATP is not in its first “green” roof: its headquarters hosts since 2015 a garden where one tests various agricultural techniques, for example … the breeding of crayfish.

– profitability to be found –

“An axis of our CSR policy – Social and environmental responsibility – is to make the city sustainable,” explains Emeline Becq, of the SEDP, a real estate subsidiary of the group.

“Today, as soon as you build or renovate a building, you plant it with a 4 ha objective by 2020. The idea is to refresh the city and make it more pleasant. There are vegetables, it’s a plus “.

Part of the harvest of the “farm” of the 12th arrondissement is reserved for the agents of the company.

Ⓒ AFP – Benjamin CREMEL – | A RATP employee buys vegetables produced by the start-up Aeromate on the roof of a building of the transport authority in Paris on August 24, 2017

“I like the taste of tomatoes, and buying in the workplace is convenient,” says a buyer, Emilie Bechet, who says it pays about the same price as an organic basket.

Analyzes, entrusted to AgroParisTech, showed the absence, or quasi (non-quantifiable levels), of pollutions on vegetables, underlines the Régie. The advantage of off-ground: no contamination via land, main vector.

However, customers are lacking, says Théo Manesse, one of the three partners within Aéromate: only seven RATP employees came to the weekly distribution on Thursday.

Would consumers be “afraid of urban agriculture?” Worries the young agronomist. The activity, which requires labor, is still far from profitable and the company has to expand its outlets, even if it already sells to a few distributors like La Ruche which says yes.

Ⓒ AFP – Benjamin Cremel – | Aeromate start-up employee monitors plantations of vegetables and aromatic herbs on roof of RATP building in Paris on August 24, 2017

In the coming months, it will inaugurate two other gardens, on an office building on rue Réaumur and an art school on the 3rd arrdt.

For an economic but also climatic goal, the City of Paris aims to plant 100 ha of walls and roofs by 2020, 33 of which are dedicated to agriculture.

Of the first 30 “Paris-culteurs” it supports, the municipality discounts an annual production of 425 T of fruit and vegetables, 24 T of mushrooms, 3 T of fish, 8,000 liters of beer, over 30,000 flowers …

Among the most spectacular projects, the roof of the Opera Bastille (5,000 m2 available!), With hops. In the parking lot Raymond-Queneau (18th), “The cavern” must make in the basement mushrooms on coffee grounds and market gardening under LED.

In addition to the RATP, some 70 companies have also signed a charter launched by the town hall, committing them to join the approach: department stores, real estate groups, hotels, or even Radio France …

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