Nov 13th, 2019, 05:30 PM

Agro-Urban Farming in the Busy 18th Arrondissement

By Ali Benzerara
End of the winter squash harvest in the greenhouse at La Recyclerie
La Recyclerie Creates Sustainable Agriculture Needs Through Community Farming

A bohemian setting juxtaposed in a very urban city. Add a little bit of community effort and you have Paris’s La Recyclerie in the busy Port de Clignancourt area of the 18th arrondissement.

Unique for its joint effort between company and community, La Recyclerie has been open in Paris for five years, despite its reoccurring annual financial deficit.

Oliver Fontenas, a soil scientist and farmer at La Recyclerie, is one of the main farmers. He explained that although the company technically loses money, it is because La Recyclerie encompasses several businesses. This includes a coffee bar and restaurant during the day, a bar/club on the weekends, an urban garden, volunteer center, free tool rental and repair service center, a brewery and an educational center that offers over 100 workshops a year.

Image Credit: Ali Benzerara

What makes La Recyclerie even more unique is that anyone can become a member by paying an annual membership fee of 20 to 30 euros. With this membership includes, access to the free tool and repair service, compost services and workshop opportunities.

Mainly focusing on sustainability, community, awareness and education—it is only natural that La Recyclerie focuses on zero-waste. The biggest way the company achieves this is through the symbiotic nature which the restaurant and the urban garden work together. Kitchen scraps are sent to the compost bins located towards the back of the garden — four large wooden dugouts, one for each stage of soil compost. This is then regurgitated into the soil of the urban garden where 60 to 70 percent of the restaurant’s food comes from, including regional produce as well.

Not only do they have a zero-waste policy, but they use recycled or secondhand material as well.

“80 percent of the furniture here is from secondhand stores,” said Fontenas. “That along with things like our own honey production, which produces 70 to 80 kilograms of honey per year, allows us to stay sustainable while also producing zero-waste."

Image Credit: Ali Benzerara

As for the urban garden goes, the main draw of La Recyclerie is that there is much to be discovered. With most of their gardening techniques coming from newer aged organic processes, the urban garden offers space for people to eat and drink, enjoy animals and learn about gardening.

“It’s cool they’re doing everything organically. [They] don’t have a huge amount of people coming so they don’t need a huge crop and can afford to grow organically with economic sense. In a city space, they utilize the space very well, creating a very efficient output,” said Signi Livingstone-Peters.

La Recyclerie is located on 83 Boulevard Ornano, 75018, Paris and is open from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.