Car ownership has been steadily declining in Paris for years, leaving the city with a new problem: thousands of square meters of unused underground parking space. In an effort to repurpose this space, the city began running competitions to find innovative uses for the space. This is how three major garages in the city came to be filled with thriving fungi.
We recently wrote about enormous rooftop gardens in Paris growing fresh produce for urban dwellers, but when it comes to growing underground it’s more difficult to find a crop that will thrive. Fortunately, the dark, moist space is great for mushrooms.
The urban farming organization, Cycloponics, has begun farming oyster, shitake, and white button mushrooms in underground parking garages across the city. They also produce chicory which likewise thrives in the underground conditions. The mushrooms are harvested and sold in partnership with nearby organic grocery stores.
Localized urban farming helps boost food security in cities and reduces the carbon footprint of food consumed. Taking mushrooms from a parking garage to a nearby grocery store eliminates transportation and storage emissions and means these veggies are as fresh as can be. As we strengthen public transportation systems and make cities more human-friendly, solutions like this are perfect for transforming outdated infrastructure into new opportunities.