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Organic vegetables grown in underground carpark in Paris

Théo Champagnat and Jean-Noël Gertz created the start-up Cycloponics, which has opened La Caverne in Paris and the Bunker in Strasbourg in old underground carparks. As stated on the labels, La Caverne is “the only organic farm in Paris” and is found in the 18th arrondissement. There is still a carpark on level -1, the vegetables are grown on level -2.

They produce pleurote and shiitake mushrooms and other vegetables including radish, mustard, sunflower, peas and rocket - they will start growing chicory this month. The mushrooms don’t need light, but the other vegetables have blue and red LED lights. They plan on using 100% renewable electricity. 

Cycloponics began when the Ville de Paris launched a call for projects in 2016, Parisculteurs, aiming to develop urban agriculture to increase short circuit distribution in the capital. Despite common belief, there are a decreasing amount of cars in the carparks (increase in public transport usage, people developing better habits). Théo Champagnat explains that the model of an urban underground farm already exists in London, “Growing Underground”. 

La Caverne has been running for 3 months and they have 6 employees. They explain that “For the time being, we are using hardly 10% of the space and can produce almost 100-200kg of mushrooms a week and almost 200 punnets of lettuce shoots”. 

They deliver their produce to Parisian restaurants by bike, as well as small supermarkets and five Amaps (Associations supporting local agriculture). Locals also get preferential rates and are even given priority in employment, which was part of the deal with the social housing board, the landlords. 

Cycloponics plan to produce 80 tons of mushrooms and 200 tons of chicory a year. But they want to do so recuperating objects and materials - they are buying the cold room off of a farmer and were given their grinder. The bricks used to grow the mushrooms will then be ground, filled with earthworm and given a new function. 

Emma Tandy (du Suau de La Croix)
+33 6 14 32 75 29 

Publication date: 1/2/2018



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