Project to install greenhouses on rooftops in Marseille

Since June last year, twenty nine year old Andréa Bismuth has been growing thousands of potted plants over a 1,000m2 site in Tarascon. The experimental project is overseen by the Cité de l’Agriculture in Marseille. Eventually, the young producer will have to prove the efficiency of growing plants in an urban setting, i.e. above ground.

Mr Bismuth is passionate about permaculture and has set up a system of pots attached to a PVC pipe and water. Instalment cost €15,000 and each pot costs €5. Each pot has a 2.5cm water reserve and are individually supplied. In the summer only 250 ml are needed (half the amount is needed in the winter). This system has been developed in arid places such as Africa and Israel as it is notably wind resistant. Instead of using soil, manure enriched coconut fibres are used. The coconut fibres are cost-effective, 1 litre of fibre is the equivalent of 3.5 litres of soil and can last for 10 years. It is also known to hold water and mineral salts. Mr Bismuth explains that “This means that we can have large productions”. Pesticides and fertilisers are not allowed to be used on the project.

The Cité de l’agriculture has given Mr Bismuth carte blanche on the amount of plants and he has not set a limit. Over the summer his production included melons, tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, salads, and goji berries. Mr Bismuth says that they are looking for quality, and “the melons were excellent with impressive levels of sugar. We also had a good salad harvest.”

Last year production started a bit late, in June, so 2018 should have even better results as plantation will start as of April. The young producer also plans to install a 8x30m greenhouse over the next few days to increase production by 30%. The next phase of the project could begin in 2019 with greenhouses installed on rooftops in Marseille, depending on the amount of volunteers.

Similar projects have already been carried out in Canada (e.g. a 2,000m2 rooftop greenhouse), Singapore, Germany and Chicago. Mr Bismuth explains that not only is productivity higher in greenhouses, but that the plants are protected from the weather and pests.

Source: La Provence

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