The cool depths of a parking garage might be the last place you would expect to find culinary innovation in Paris. But as the car-free revolution sweeps through the city, empty concrete caverns are being transformed into subterranean farms that feed a growing appetite for hyper-local produce.
For Laurent Couraudon, the founder of Wesh Grow, an urban agricultural project focusing on the year-round production of microgreens and aromatic herbs, you couldn’t ask for a more ideal laboratory. Underground, where the temperature ranges between 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit (even during Paris’s scorching hot summers and damp winters), Couraudon uses hydroponics to grow chef-favored delicacies like sweet-pea shoots, amaranth, lemon balm, and earthy micro beets. The freshly plucked greens are then delivered by bicycle or foot to many of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Since launching in 2018 through the ParisCulteurs program, which gives unused sites like rooftops, parking lots, and walls to farmers, Wesh Grow has expanded to include multiple farms that supply more than 500 restaurants with local produce.
Wesh Grow (named after the French slang word “wesh,” which roughly translates to “what’s up?”) is one of many companies contributing to Paris’s radical food system transition. The city plans to increase the total share of locally produced food consumed by Parisians from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2030, a move that would help the sector slash its carbon emissions and boost employment and biodiversity. For chefs, it also means better access to nutrient-dense, fresh ingredients that aren’t typically available in France.
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