An Urban Agriculture Mentoring Partnership
Since 2016, the City of Paris has implemented the Parisculteurs program to facilitate and promote the installation of urban agricultural projects in Paris. It’s about finding sites - roofs, walls, basements, open spaces - and providing the opportunity for farmers to develop projects there in direct partnership with local Parisians. Thanks to this program, more than 50 projects have emerged in recent years and just as many are currently under development. Paris now has more than 30 hectares of agricultural land within its territory and is now a pioneer city in urban agricultural development.
In 2013, a study by the Atelier Parisien d'Urbanisme (APUR) identified a potential area of 80 hectares of roofs to be vegetated in Paris, part of which would be converted into urban agriculture. Rooftop gardens within the City provide an excellent opportunity in terms of available surfaces for greening. These spaces also have the added advantage of being unaffected by pollution issues which can impact upon urban soils and therefore constrain the range of possibilities for agriculture. By 2014, urban agriculture projects had spread to over approximately 11 ha in Paris, almost all supported by the City of Paris. These include educational farms, community gardens and projects on vacant and derelict land.
“Les Parisculteurs” is a partnership approach, which aims to source land for UA projects throughout Paris and also, to a lesser extent, within the City’s wider metropolitan area. The "Objective 100 hectares" Charter now has been signed by 82 partners who have committed to regreening and to the development of urban agriculture. Many of the partners have already identified sites as a direct result of Parisculteurs mentoring activities and funding for projects.
Calls for projects by Parisculteurs involve the identification and establishment of sites for UA, on land owned by the City of Paris or by its partner organisations. Parisculteurs aims to make these sites available for agricultural projects led by external stakeholder groups which might include voluntary associations, social enterprises or businesses, as well as new start-ups.
To develop new projects Parisculteurs assess potential applications through an open competition, which assesses the proposed organisational structure and detailed proposals. This structure must have the capacity to implement a relevant, robust project which is suitably adapted to the specific site. It must have the necessary support to develop the project and also ongoing sources of assistance project once the work has been developed. This approach makes it possible to encourage a great diversity of projects with a wide range of objectives including productive, recreational and participative and technical approaches e.g. above ground, under glass, on open ground or located underground using artificial light sources.
The process also involves a strategy of promotion and communication aimed at landowners, existing and future urban farmers and the wider public. This aims to inform and train stakeholders though workshops on the basics of urban agriculture, toolkits, resources and administration. All this has a multiplier effect in terms of facilitation similar projects outside the framework of the Parisculteurs immediate sphere of influence.