Between high buildings, a basketball court, and a nursery school, a group of about fifteen people are finishing their lunch break in the sun and are getting ready to go back to work... a few meters underground. It is this former parking lot, in the heart of the Cité des Indes in Sartrouville (Yvelines), that the Champerché company has chosen to set up its new urban farm. In eighteen months, the 1,300 m2 space has been completely rehabilitated to accommodate, since the beginning of the year, basil, salads, and also edible flowers.
Champerché opened its first urban farm in 2019 in Paris, on the premises of a CPCU (Compagnie Parisienne de Chauffage Urbain) heat exchange station. The 42 m2 of the site were enough to produce, last year, 3 tons of harvest, which is a turnover of 70,000 euros. "We started with aromatic herbs because they are high value-added plants that are easy to grow in an above-ground system. This allowed us to determine the best protocols", explains Clément Delhomme, in charge of the company's public relations.
It is now time to produce more, since 28 to 30 tons of products should come out of the new farm in Sartrouville, but also to develop more complex species. A dozen varieties of lettuce have already taken root and should soon be followed by tomato plants, melons or even vanilla and passion fruit.
Such ambitions regarding the choice of products are permitted because Champerché's culture escapes the seasonal and climatic constraints of the Parisian basin. Without soil or natural light, the plants grow in biopony: LEDs replace the sun and the roots are bathed in nutrient-rich water circulating in a closed circuit.