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Local Matters / Changing Landscape

An organic vertical farm near Paris

Tour Maraichere

Located in the east of Paris, the town of Romainville is finalizing its project to develop a vertical farm expected to yield 16 tons of organic vegetables per year.

In France’s latest foray into urban farming, a vertical edifice producing organic vegetables will soon be built in the heart of Paris’ inner suburbs. The project fits into the urban renewal and restructuration of the capital into le Grand Paris — Greater Paris — and into the city’s efforts to green its surfaces.

Just three kilometers east of Paris, Romainville has a long history of growing vegetables ­— as well as grapes for the production of wine. This tradition lives on through numerous private vegetable patches dotted around the area, but an upcoming project aims to refresh Romainville’s produce-growing history on a much larger scale.

The high-tech building, dubbed la Tour Maraîchère — the vegetable-growing tower — will contain six floors of organic vegetable patches, grown using techniques melding “traditional practices and modernity.”

This type of highly-concentrated vertical farming in an urban setting follows similar projects in New York and Singapore. In the former, the 10,000m2 Brooklyn Grange farm holds the record of the largest vegetable roof in the world. In the latter, salads grow high up amid the skyscrapers in the city’s Sky Greens vertical farm.

The Romainville project promises to be even more eco-friendly than its pre-existing counterparts. The innovative structure has been designed with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind, from glass façades and natural ventilation to innovative heating systems and rainwater harvesting.

The building will see the light in the center of Romainville’s renovated Marcel Cachin district by the summer of 2018. Standing at 24 meters, the edifice will comprise over 1,000 m2 of arable surface — thanks to multiple levels and stacks of superimposed containers — a mushroom-growing area in the basement and a store on the ground floor selling all produce.

According to town officials, the project will strengthen social ties and create sustainable jobs. Architecture agency Ilimelgo, who contributed to the project, states: “At the intersection of ancestral gardening methods and technological innovation, this project is an opportunity for us to reconnect residents with local production.”

The Mayor of Romainville has been pushing for this project for several years: Corinne Valls — no relation to the Prime Minister — believes that beyond reconnecting the town to its agricultural roots, “the vegetable tower will allow access to quality food for all its citizens” alongside strengthening community links and “creating sustainable employment.”

Construction is expected to begin by Spring 2017.

Photo credit: Ville de Romainville

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