Nature in the city: an asset in urban development projects
We increasingly incorporate urban agriculture into our urban development projects to raise awareness and reintroduce nature and market gardening in cities. This new urban farm approach boosts ecosystems for municipal authorities and city dwellers by increasing biodiversity, promoting shorter distribution chains, boosting well-being and improving rainwater management. The overall benefits to health and the environment are tremendous.
It is also a way of adding value to spaces that are currently underutilised, such as façades, rooftops, basements and outdoor spaces. It represents a major opportunity amid the current acute land shortage.
Trailblazing urban ecology projects in progress
The future 20-hectare eco-neighbourhood designed by Eiffage currently under construction in Châtenay-Malabry will have plenty of space for plants to grow. It will feature a large walkway with abundant greenery. There will also be a 1-hectare urban farm, with agricultural production forecast to reach 6,000 tonnes annually. The farm will help to meet demand for sustainable agriculture by promoting short distribution chains. Fruit and vegetables will be sold directly to the neighbourhood’s schools and residents through a third party.
Similarly, the Asnières-sur-Seine mixed development zone will combine urban agriculture with an access-to-employment programme. Just under 1.7 hectares of rooftop space will be used as production areas and shared gardens. The project also has an educational, interactive and social dimension. Four urban farmers will be hired to produce 7,000 punnets of fruit and 30,000 bottles of juice, demonstrating the project’s tangible impact.
Off-ground agriculture: an alternative to traditional agriculture in which fruit, vegetables and plants grow in the earth, off-ground agriculture refers to agriculture in other locations. These may include greenhouses and also closed or controlled environments.
Aeroponics, hydroponics and aquaponics: these are various types of off-ground agriculture in which a mist of nutrient-based water – aeroponics – or aqueous solutions – hydroponics – replace soil while still providing the nutrients required for crops to grow. Aquaponics mixes aquaculture and hydroponics in a closed circuit in which the water comes from an aquarium, where it is enriched by the fish excretions. That process helps to purify the water, which can be kept in circulation indefinitely, creating a virtuous circle.