Paris’ urban, rooftop farm will be world's biggest

Farms no longer have to be sweeping rural fields of green and crops that go on for miles; they can actually be located in cities. Now, along with the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, Paris will be home to the world’s largest urban farm.

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Parisian urban agriculture company Agropolis won the contract to design the organic farm as part of a redesigned entertainment complex. The 150,695-square-foot urban facility is scheduled to open next year.

Agropolis farm in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Agropolis)

Located in the 15th arrondissement on top of the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, the farm will attract visitors with its own on-site restaurant and bar serving up to 300 people. Agropolis plans to grow more than 30 plant species, and the site will produce over 2,204 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables every day in peak seasons. The plants will be tended by 20 gardeners.

Crops will be grown in the open air, as on a traditional farm, but in vertical growing towers. Indoor farms frequently use this method to maximize space. The aeroponic system doesn’t use soil and the plants are misted with a nutrient-rich organic solution, which minimizes water use. The Paris farm is the company's first aeroponic farm, though the company has other major sites in The Hague, Detroit and Shanghai.

“Our guiding principle with all our farms is to help foster environmental and economic resilience in tomorrow’s cities,” says Pascal Hardy, founder of Agropolis.

He expects the farm to start making a profit within its first year.

“If we can create a model that is commercially viable, rather than having to rely on goodwill and subsidies, that will help urban farms to become sustainable in their own right.”

American urban farms are growing in popularity as well. Chicago’s South Side houses a 75,000-square-foot greenhouse atop a factory that grows up to 10 million heads of leafy greens each year and was previously the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world when built. Brooklyn, New York’s new 55,000-square-foot rooftop garden, which includes a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse, is opening this month.

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For Hardy and other urban farmers, locally grown produce with city dweller access is critical to serving increasingly metropolitan populations.

“Our vision is a city in which flat roofs and abandoned surfaces are covered with these new growing systems,” says Hardy. “Each will contribute directly to feeding urban residents who today represent the bulk of the world’s population.”