Urban agriculture or urban farming encompasses all agricultural and animal husbandry activities taking place in or around cities.
This broad definition enables a great diversity of
urban agriculture practices, which vary in multiple ways including location
(roofs, walls, aboveground and underground lots), production method (raised
beds, hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, open ground, greenhouses, open air),
organizational structure (companies, non-profits, start-ups, community
organizers), and purpose (productive, educational, participatory, or all at
This definition also provides the spatial perimeter
for urban agriculture, ranging from urban to peri-urban areas and allowing for greater
linkage between the urban sphere and the agricultural sphere, with the latter
historically located beyond the boundaries of cities. This opens up the
possibility for new forms of agriculture to be born in the city.
Farming in Paris, a practice with a long history
Agriculture has always been present in the Ile-de-France region. Since the
second half of the 19th century, farmers have set out to develop agriculture in
the city, and have adapted to its constraints, for example with the famous
walls of peaches in Montreuil.
The development of vegetable farms on the outskirts of Paris even led the Ile-de-France
region to be called "The Plain of Virtues".
Over the years however,
hygiene-weary urban planning policies gradually relegated farming to the
outskirts of the city. Today, its comeback is taking new forms that fall under
the umbrella term of urban agriculture.
The benefits of urban
projects on roofs, walls, aboveground and underground lots supports the development
of a sustainable and resilient urban model in a multitude of ways. These
include shortening food supply chains, strengthening community ties, building awareness
around healthy eating, contributing to food security, providing ecological
services like storm water management, fostering biodiversity, mitigating heat
islands and enhancing energy efficiency in the built environment.
“What about pollution?”
The impact of pollution on food products produced in cities is often the
first question to arise. In response, there are numerous studies demonstrating
that transfers between air pollution and crops are minimal and present no risk
when following certain rules like growing at a height that protects against fine
particles, controlling for soil quality, and leveraging ecological cultivation
The minimum height for the cultivation of food products is always taken
into account when scoping sites for urban agriculture projects.
Soil quality is essential, as contamination from pollutants occurs primarily
through the soil. The City of Paris systematically controls for soil pollution
in order to ensure the grounds are suitable for food production.
Parisian urban agriculture projects endorse ecological cultivation
practices that prohibit the use of pesticides and agrochemicals.
In addition, urban agriculture projects in and of themselves contribute to
reducing pollution in their efforts to minimize the distance traveled by food
products between growers and consumers.
The Paris urban agriculture agenda
Over the last few decades, agriculture has moved
further and further away from cities. In order to encourage residents’
engagement with contemporary agricultural issues and promote urban greening, the
City of Paris actively supports urban agriculture through Parisculteurs, as
well as the following initiatives:
- Implementation of a sustainable food program
to reconnect Parisians
with local products respectful of the environment
- Creation and access to community gardens
- Educational farms, including the Ferme de Paris
- Creation of vegetable gardens
- Development and maintenance of the Paris vineyards
- Creation of greening permits and the Végétalisons Paris
- The Breuil horticultural school
that trains future urban farmers,
Our priority for the years to come is to develop a
local agricultural model that promotes better eating habtis and benefits both
urban and rural territories.