French organic farming explores the unconventional | FT Food Revolution

The French are embracing unconventional organic farming methods. In Paris, the FT’s Harriet Agnew visits what will be the world’s largest rooftop farm, and a company growing strawberries and herbs in shipping containers. In the French countryside, she explores a chateau farm that shuns pesticides and ploughing, but is more accommodating to weeds and old machinery.

Here in france an agricultural revolution is underway and organic farming is booming you understand that instead of fighting against nature you might want to use nature but this revolution is not just happening on traditional farms it’s an urban movement too we only use 10 percent of the water that would be used to produce exactly the same thing elsewhere i’m

Here to meet the french farmers behind this revolution and to find out how organic farming is taking hold in the eu’s largest agricultural producing country 15 meters above street level in the 15th arendy small of the south of paris sits what will be one of the world’s largest rooftop farms agripolis it’s an oasis in the french capital where pascal hardy is

Tending to an empire of fruit and vegetables urban farms can produce fruits and vegetables in a very healthy way with no pesticides local residents can also rent parts of the farm and even during the current pandemic there has been no slowdown in demand and there was a sign they want to grow and we are off every day also can you build this but just for me

For individuals on their balcony for example yeah and that’s the real trend we feel they want to grow themselves a half hour north of the city a company called agricool has taken its version of urban farming indoors hey hello hey how are you i’m fine welcome to our farms thank you and we are growing here strawberries herbs and greens without pesticides let’s

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Go inside our farm great let’s have a look yeah here is for you gosh thank you it’s not for for you actually it’s for the plant uh because you know you have to be so to save the plants from the pollution that we’re bringing in exactly because it’s a control environment okay guillaume fordinier has raised 30 million euros in funding to develop technology that

Produces strawberries and herbs all year round inside containers produce it only ever travels a maximum of 20 kilometers to reach its destination and how did you come up with the concept of agriculture i’ve been raised on a farm it was really important for me to get back to that you know quality of life and and and show that it can be possible to get that

Quality of food and responsible food even if you are in a big city getting the technology right is the most important part of the ecosystem they’ve created most of the technology we use are in-house and we had to design it from scratch so we get 90 percent less water use the renewable energy so we get you know the capacity to produce more with less according

To the french government nearly nine and a half percent of all farms in france are now involved in organic farming and just an hour south of the city a french chateau owner is working with nature to grow her organic business hi valentina hello harriet how are you valentine’s is leading a sustainable food production project to transform the 500 hectares of land

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That she and her family own at chateau de corros the organic side of her approach means she shuns pesticides it’s no pesticides and that’s been the case since 2015 for the kitchen gardens and since 2018 for the fields it’s this purple basil purple basil lemon basil we all have different coriander you can eat the flowers but she’s also practicing conservation

Agriculture a farming system that minimizes soil disturbance in the conservation what is considered evil is plowing is working too much the ground we have stopped plowing for the last five years sometimes we sow the wheat or barley or whatever in the weeds she also believes our expectations and preconceptions of agriculture need to change we are so used to

Think that good agriculture is clean fields the same plants are hectors and hectares i’m turning my back to that valentine freely admits her approach to agriculture is an unusual one i am considered by many people like a mixture of extremely naive and extremely pretentious which i probably am both but i think i might succeed nevertheless in some little bits

Also by accident my last stop at valentine’s is with her lead farmer bruno saye who’s just finished harvesting some grain he tells me that what sets them apart from other organic farmers is that the low energy sustainable methods used here can be scaled up more cost effectively for more sizable crops revenues for organic produce here in france are predicted to

Reach 15 billion euros by 2022 between rising consumer demand an increase in production and land use for organic farming in france this industry is building momentum

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French organic farming explores the unconventional | FT Food Revolution By Financial Times

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