Usbek & Rica – In Montreuil, they create an urban flower farm on a polluted wasteland

That being said, we had to do a little cleaning. For an “urban farmer”, cultivating in the open ground is a luxury, but the soil still has to hold up. The analyzes on the quality of the soils initially severely limited the options: too polluted for market gardening and for small fruit trees, unless you cultivate in aboveground tubs, as is the case with many projects. Only ornamental and cut flower cultivation was allowed. But floriculture also has its needs. Gold ” the first time i visited, recalls Sophie, I couldn’t even go to the end, it was the jungle. We passed a scooter, a car seat, trash cans “. Unused for years, the northern part of the plot – the flowers of this season 1 are to the south – had been turned into a wild landfill.

After a major cleaning, it is therefore now necessary to give life to the floor. ” On pollution, we have the studies, but for bacterial and organic life, we can never really know… We must test », She explains, pointing to the green manures – of sainfouin, alfalfa, phacelia and clover – planted to boost the soil with nitrogen and begin to prepare it for the future.


« Once you reconnect with nature, you realize that there are things to fix. And this land was really in need of repair Sophie comments thoughtfully. This is partly what prompted him to apply for this project, for season 3 of Parisculteurs. A programme through which the City of Paris “ supports landowners so that they welcome urban agriculture project leaders on their roofs, their terraces, in their car parks, at the foot of their buildings “. And that she already knows: in 2017, winner of season 1 of Parisculteurs and then director of a post office, she was developing with the collective Seed factor, on the roof terrace of the La Chapelle mail distribution center, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, a 900 m2 mini-farm. Fruits, vegetables, aromatics and medicinal plants still grow there today.

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« Agriculture in the city is in fact a pretext to forge links with an environment, an economy, to bring people together, to find meaning … And to reconnect with agriculture itself. Me, that’s what it allowed me. Then we become a locomotive to tell urbanites about the issues of what is happening elsewhere. »She explains having learned with Veni Verdi, a pioneer association of urban agriculture in Paris, which in 2015 set up a vegetable garden in the schoolyard of its children. By co-creating Facteur Graine a year later, she hoped to inspire other projects, on other roofs, and had made progress in setting up logistics, via the Post Office, for the sale of vegetables in short circuits, but was not sustained… Then came the flowers.

Flower power

With a doubt, initially. Because ” “flowers are not useful! “, that’s what I told myself first, especially during confinement », Which revived the question of the low food autonomy of urbanites. But she ” solve this question quickly enough “. The flowers help to vegetate cities and fight against the erosion of biodiversity (otherwise a large grasshopper would not have looked great in front of the lens during our visit), this type of initiative creates jobs ( the Wall currently has one employee, Céline Doyen, a trained landscaper), and their short-circuit sale limits greenhouse gas emissions.

Realizing the benefits of cultivating and pruning by hand, without pesticides (even if a neighbor who was a retired horticulturalist advised him to ” glyphosate every other day, one can! »), And following the cycle of the seasons, today she wishes to share it. ” If it worked for me, it can work for others. »

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The first visits were organized last July during the summer programming of the department, and small groups were able to practice planting, sowing seeds, harvesting flowers and putting into a bouquet. ” After a day people are transformed. Something is happening. »

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