The French call them “champignons de Paris” yet the farming of button mushrooms, the world’s most cultivated, had totally died out within the French capital – until now.
After an absence of almost a century, a pair of green-fingered “urban farmers” in their 30s have just reintroduced the famed fungi, rising Agaricus bisporus in a dark transformed underground automobile park deep beneath the town of light.
French farmers revolutionised mushroom manufacturing centuries in the past via introducing in limestone quarries underneath Paris a “royal” mushroom variety that the Solar King, Louis XIV, had made preferred by means of having it grown at Versailles.
they discovered out that the mushrooms would grow year-spherical if placed in a manure-based totally substrate deep underground, the place constant darkish, temperature and humidity offered perfect stipulations for his or her growth.
Even the ghoulish tunnels of the Paris catacombs, now a most sensible tourist attraction, were once filled with mushroom beds.
However, city enlargement and mainly the construction of the Paris metro pushed growers out of the capital within the early 1900s with some moving into quarries within the suburbs and such a lot decamping to the winegrowing Can Pay de los angeles Loire area.
Unfettered through any geographical denomination that intended that none of the ONE HUNDRED,000 a whole bunch button mushrooms bought in France consistent with yr have been farmed underneath Paris itself.
Alternatively, for the earlier months, they have got again been growing underneath town centre – no longer in a quarry but a 2,500 sq.-metre former automotive park in the jap 19th arrondissement, only a quarter of an hour’s bike journey from Montmartre.
“this is the first time on the grounds that across the thirties that champignons de Paris were farmed within the city partitions,” mentioned Jean-Noël Gertz, an agricultural engineer who runs the natural “city farm” company Cycloponics, in conjunction with appropriately-named industry spouse Théo Champagnat.
While at complete capability, they aim to supply 2.5 lots in step with day.
With car use falling rapid in Paris, the pair have taken advantage of a municipal power to make extra efficient and sustainable use of the capital’s increasingly disused underground parking loads.
In 2017, they open their first natural urban farm in a parking lot under a housing state at Los Angeles Chapelle in Paris’ local 18th arrondissement, in the past a no-cross zone and den of drug dealers and prostitutes.
The Cavern, as that farm is named, has long gone from potential to potential, selling chicory, micro vegetables like cress and rocket and two kinds of mushroom – shiitake and oyster – to natural grocers and restaurants across the capital introduced basically by means of bike.
“Or luck is linked to the very prime demand for organic, native products, a sector that may be experiencing double-digit expansion. we’re using that wave,” he mentioned.
Los Angeles Caverne employs a dozen other folks and produces approximately 500kg of mushrooms Credit Score: CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
On The Other Hand, champignons de Paris proved a trickier challenge, stated Mr Gertz. “They’re fragile and tougher to grow and also you need to respect much stricter hygiene prerequisites to make it paintings,” together with air filtration, sliding doors and footpaths ahead of access, he advised the Telegraph.
“We only develop the brown cap variety, because it’s a lot richer taste-wise and the white button mushroom has been genetically modified beyond recognition in the prior 30 years,” he said. The farm uses compost imported from Belgium.
The pair are due to open two more such underground farms in Paris and 3 in Lyon, southeastern France.
in addition they have an underground farm in Bordeaux rising button mushrooms and every other in a former German bunker courting again to 1876, in jap Strasbourg, where they paintings with blind and in part-sighted pickers for whom low mild is not a subject.
Ironically, alternatively, despite the button mushroom renaissance in Paris, the destiny of the 5 final conventional champignon de Paris producers just out of doors the capital in deserted quarries has never appeared so bleak and one best site has just closed.
“it is not an issue of finding purchasers, I promote the whole lot i can produce,” mentioned Shoua-moua Vang at Les Alouettes in Carrieres-sur-Seine, a short drive from the l. a. Defence trade district west of the capital.
the issue was once more prosaic, he said, namely a dearth of prepared staff.
“Other Folks at the present time are not looking for to paintings all day within the dark like vampires.”