Cycloponics to expand organic farming facilities in French car parks9 Apr 2020
A French subterranean agriculture startup launched its first funding round last November and raised almost double the investment that was requested. When Cycloponics launched on Lita.co, a platform for investment in sustainable companies, the company hoped to raise €500,000. As of April 8, it had raised €950,800, 110% of which was from individual contributors.
This underground urban farm operates in Paris and cultivates mushrooms, strawberries, lettuce and microgreens in abandoned parking garages using hydroponic agricultural techniques. The startup launched in the French capital in 2016 with the goal of producing 30 metric tons of fruit and vegetables and 24 metric tons of mushrooms in 3,500 square meters of abandoned underground parking.
The euros received from this investment will go toward the company’s expansion as it looks to rehabilitate other abandoned urban sites for crop cultivation. Euractiv reports that Cycloponics recently won bids to expand its project into two other car parks in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.
Funds will also support an increase in vendor capabilities for the produce the company cultivates. Cycloponics delivers fresh organic produce daily with its fleet of cargo bikes. It also sells directly to restaurants and at markets.
Despite raising nearly a million euros to increase its access to abandoned real estate, Euractiv reports the company already has excess space in the abandon parking garage it has repurposed. To fill up the unused footprint, Cycloponics shares the premises with other sustainable agricultural startups, including a Norwegian fishmonger that produces Arctic sea urchins in aquariums and other hydroponic agricultural projects.
The farming startup currently operates in a space called La Caverne (The Cave) and grows its produce on the second underground level of the parking structure. Cultivation at that depth allows for plants to benefit from an autumnal-like environment year-round and limits the pests that can damage crops. It also requires techniques such as vertical farming; climactic engineering through the use of LED lights and thermal regulation; nutrient-rich hydroponic tanks that replace traditional dirt and permit denser cultivation; and the use of substrates and compost to encourage fungi growth.
According to the company website, the goal is to create nutritional hubs in urban neighborhoods to bring people closer to their food. Although Cycloponics currently only cultivates less than 4,000 square meters of space, French publication Le Monde estimates that there are 80 hectares of rooftop space and nearly 770 hectares of limestone quarry are available to be transformed into food production sites.
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