Paris Under the Strawberries
An innovative rooftop garden on Paris’ Galeries Lafayette is a fresh take on urban farming.
Haute couture shoppers at Paris’ Galeries Lafayette will be surprised to know that hundreds of kilos of strawberries are floating on the roof above their heads. “Paris under the Strawberries” is an installation of walls of strawberries and other aromatic plants on the rooftop of the iconic department store. Officially unveiled in mid-June, the project is the brainchild of the French Association for Soilless Cultivation (FASC), in conjunction with the city’s economic development agency, Paris & Co.
The installation incorporates an innovative hydroponic technique that does not require soil to nourish the plants, and allows for the same number of plants to be grown in half the space. In this instance, 500 square meters will produce what would typically require 1,000 square meters of cultivated land. What’s more, the system collects and uses rainwater, and reduces “heat islands” common in large cities.
The venture is completely organic, avoiding pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals while making use of recycled materials and micro-organisms, all programmed and managed by software. Three beehives provide the necessary number of bees to pollinate the flowers and plants. In the three months since the project was installed, the roof has produced over 400 kilos of strawberries.
Yohan Hubert is an agricultural engineer and director of the FASC. While this is not his first installation of this kind, he confirms that it is the largest and most ambitious. He hopes it will attract the public’s attention, and spark a wave of novel approaches by businesses and public officials alike, to integrating green spaces in Paris’ tightly-packed urban environment. Several chefs and restaurant owners have already expressed their interest in the idea.