Nowadays, roof areas are used for many purposes. France provides a good ecological example: Farmhouse So Ouest is a 270-square-meter farm – to be expanded to 600 sq m this year – located on the roof of the So Ouest shopping center in Levallois-Perret in the Île-de-France region northwest of Paris. There, vegetables, fruits, and plants are produced via vertical agriculture, without herbicide, pesticide, or fertilizer, according to permaculture principles. Since its opening in June 2018, over one ton of fruits and vegetables have been harvested: tomatoes, basil, mint, strawberries, bell peppers, chili peppers, kale, and thyme. The products are subsequently sold directly to customers, inside a dedicated pop-up store within the mall.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) began its collaboration with Sous Les Fraises two years ago, convinced by its innovative concept. The startup promotes a circular approach to production and consumption: Irrigation is achieved through a closed-loop system that recycles rain water to feed the plants, and products are sold via a short distribution circuit, avoiding long distance transportation.
Engaging Local Communities
Through this partnership, URW has brought nature back to the city. In line with its “Better Places 2030” CSR strategy, the Group intends to create better, greener buildings that are more respectful of the environment. The project also engages local communities. Workshops are organized for neighbors, visitors, schools, and corporations located nearby to raise awareness on topics related to urban farming. From urban ecology to permaculture and workshops on cocktail creation, edible flowers, or herbal tea preparation, Farmhouse So Ouest contributes to local life and well-being by providing access to new equipment and activities.
The partnership with Sous les Fraises reinforces URW Link’s efforts in favor of circular economy, as illustrated by the collaborations with Phenix and Too Good To Go. “Overall, the circular and collaborative approach of Sous Les Fraises adds true value to our assets: It exploits unused space and promotes a pragmatic and positive vision of agriculture. This enriches our buildings, making them more sustainable and in tune with their environments. We are accelerating on this topic and look forward to new projects with Sous Les Fraises,” commented Jean Collet, Director of URW Link.
Other projects with Sous Les Fraises are ongoing. A 150-square-meter urban farm is scheduled to open this year on the roof of Shift, URW’s office development project in Issy-les-Moulineaux, south of Paris.