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No stocks, No transports... No losses.

Tim Cousin
Tim Cousin | Mar 4, 2014 | in Bühler "From Farm to Fork"
In Asia, « vertical farming » projects are multiplying and architecture workshops are designing the tomorrow’s agriculture : an agriculture closer to consumers, integrated with the city.. But what about old buildings ? How can we integrate this « urban invasion » of agriculture in our old cities ?
There are 31 million square meters of roofs in Paris, among them, 20% (6 million m2) are flat and empty.
The idea is to put greenhouse crops on these roofs. Under control of biologist and specialists, the crops would have a low environmental impact but moreover
they would be rational : the citizens would have an online interface through which they would choose the plants (fruits, vegetables..) they wish to be grow in their neighborhood.
This roof reuse, combined with coming soon vertical farming buildings will allow the agriculture to invade the city.
The consumer will chose products that will be grown close to his home, 
no stocks, no transports... no losses.

Nicolas Pierret Mar 4, 2014

Check this out, about existing example:


They combine production and sale with education, being linked with university programs, having trainees as well.

Nadina - Buhler Expert Mar 4, 2014

I agree with you that urban farming should be implemented in both existing and new cities using different concepts - regarding rooftop farming there is also a Swiss startup focusing on this: http://urbanfarmers.com/

I especially like your idea to integrate the entire concept into the neighbourhood through an online system like an app.

I would be interested to hear more opinions on this topic...





Tim Cousin Mar 4, 2014

Yes, this is exactly the kind of projects that are multiplying in Asia, we need to see some of them grow in Europa, but first these projects must be adapted to the urbanism of europeean captitals (less space to build) that's why I was thinking of using the roofs.


Nicholas Molyneaux Mar 4, 2014

I find this idea to be extremely interesting for personal/small scale companies who wish to invest effort into growing there own fresh products. Instead of a garage one could have green-house.

The idea of "buy of the shelf" products from http://urbanfarmers.com/ is nice since it removes the overhead of designing something yourself which can be prohibitory for many people, time and money consuming. 

Tim Cousin Mar 4, 2014

Nice, I'd never heard of them ! this is basically the type of facilities I was thinking of. 

Yes, I think it's not just about moving agriculture into the city, it is also about re-establish a relationsip between consumer and agricuture, choosing the products, enven take part to planting and harvest..


Nicolas Pierret Mar 4, 2014

It's not "even take part to planting and harvest". For me, if you don't involve the population, you're missing the point! People will remain consumers, they should be "prosumers"! It's part of a global process which is reconnecting peope with food, and the way it's made/grown/produced.

Tim Cousin Mar 4, 2014

The point is to involve population, and I agree that consumers must tend to become prosumers but thinking that consumers will one day assume the whole production cycle of their personal food is naïve.

People have to adopt a new relationship with food, a tighter relationship, so the production would be perfectly adapt to consomation. On the other hand people have to understand how production works so they will see the ecologics and economics stakes and adopt a rational consomation. 

I think that inserting crops in neighbohrhood will be the first step in the setting up of this new understanding relationship.

Nadina - Buhler Expert Mar 5, 2014

could you  imagine a concept that involves schools - to educate kids from an early age on and make them aware of how food is grown, where waste occurs and that fresh food also tastes better?

Nicolas Pierret Mar 5, 2014

Check this out: http://www.archdaily.com/47183/edible-schoolyard-work-ac/

There are a lot of example around the world, especially in US where food security is a big issue. Going through children is a really interesting strategy, because there are curious, asking questions, and they are ready to see things in a completly new way. And they will pass the message to their parents.

Nicholas Molyneaux Mar 5, 2014

And they will be the consumers of the future (not so far away)...

Tim Cousin Mar 6, 2014

  • I haven’t thought of that initially but now that you bring the subject it become clear that children’s education is a major factor in establishing a new relationship between consumers and production (@Nicholas Molyneaux as you say they will soon be consumers themselves)


  • @Nadina - Buhler Expert the concept seem easy to put in place, as @Nicolas Pierret remarked, it already exist. Adapting this new scholastic sensibilisation to the neighborhood's greenhouses concept is pretty simple since the crops facilities would be right next to the children’s homes.


  • We could imagine making the children’s participate to small educational sessions in their neighborhood’s greenhouse on a regular schedule throughout their education. So when they will be real consumers, they would adopt a rational and responsible consummation (unlike we do).


Nicolas Pierret Mar 6, 2014

And another tool is the school restaurants. Children could eat what they grow. And it's also the place to teach them how to eat in a sustainable way: vegan days at school should be more than just a one-shot initiative!

View all replies (4)

Jean-Charles Gasche Mar 5, 2014

Isn't it less efficient to have small fields you have to cultivate without tools on roofs and by hand rather than larger fields cultivated with the help of trucks? I think people from 1850 found this out..

Tim Cousin Mar 5, 2014

The aim is not to go back to small field cultivated without tools, of course it would be regressive.

The aim is to integrate technology into greenhouses, tending to an automatic production process, the small size of these fields would just allow them to be integrated to every neighborhood of the city so consumers would be close to their products, no transports.

They would also choose the products they wish to be grow in their neiborhood's crops so the production would be adapted to the consomation.


Users tagged:

Nicholas Molyneaux Mar 5, 2014

The idea is also to make better use of roof tops... because swimming pools arn't the best usage of good exposed areas which would do nicely for plants of all kind

Tim Cousin Mar 5, 2014

It's my all time frustration ! Roof tops, such a waste, it's the perfect place (sun exposition, area..) but most of the time it's just left apart... 

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Hugomrbf Mar 5, 2014

It's a pretty good idea,

i like the idea of developping an interface trough wich consumers can choose their products.


Leila Ojjeh Mar 6, 2014

Status changed to INTERESTING
Bühler Experts have tagged your idea as "interesting" as it adds a new component to vertical farming by connecting consumers directly via an online interface and ensuring the “right” / desired products are grown. Could we explore why the different players along the value chain would be interested in doing this?
Nadina, Bühler Expert

Tim Cousin Mar 6, 2014

Well, this concept include a whole transformation of the food chain, it means that it will also change the status and the role of the different players of this chain, creating new one and suppressing others…
For players of the upstream links including manufacturers of agricultural equipments (tractors, combine harvesters …), input manufacturers (fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides …) and manufacturers of seeds. It’s a new market they have to develop through association with research in food technology. Their role will first be to develop the tools and the programs required to create intelligent greenhouses. Then they would be the garants of the exploitation and the evolution of this new crops facilites. This new market will open new possibilities of profits for those players.
The farmers (middle link players) of those new crops would be different then today’s farmers, they would rather be scientists (biologists) their role would be to assure the quality of the plants and their growing environment. The manual work would all be automated by the facilities of the greenhouses, it sounds a bit futurist but that might be the natural evolution of the profession.. 
For players of downstream links (who use organic matter as a raw material to be transform) That may be an opportunity to cut a portion of the transport distance and by the way reduce losses and costs.
Of course in such a system, transports companies would be the loosing players...

Nelly Afonso Mar 13, 2014

Hello, I think that these ideas are great but I feel reluctant about consuming plants that would grow on roof tops... I understand that it is a great place for sun exposition but in big cities there is also pollution. I don't know if I miss a point about that (maybe with more plants, there would be less pollution) but I can't erase it from my mind. Did you think about this issue ?

Tim Cousin Mar 13, 2014

In fact, the idea is to grow plants into greenhouses, the structure will assure a protected atmosphere so they won't be any polution inside ( We could even think of create an enriched air to make them grow better ).

Iliass TAHIRI Mar 19, 2014

It's clear that there is a problem with the space alocated for vegetation in the world.
Why not think of constructing skyscrapers with only one goal use the space in the floors to produce vegetables and fruits...
And the production will be incresed drasticaly.
In the construction we should consider how the sunlight is gonna reach the plants.
Design an intelligent water distribution system. In fact we really can optimize the use of water which is another severe problem.
I think that in the future there will be lack of water all over the world , and this rare ressource(in the future) will be the main reason why food will stop being available for everyone.