They Want to Pave This Urban Farm and Put Up a Parking Lot

A Paris suburb’s R-Urban project was hailed as an innovative way to bring fresh food to the community.

(Photo: R-Urban/Twitter)

Sep 12, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

Paging Joni Mitchell: The mayor of a Paris suburb has announced plans to pave over a lush urban farm full of organic vegetables—to put up a parking lot.

Locals in the city of Colombes, France, tell The Guardian that they have come to rely on the impressive urban sustainability project, R-Urban, since 2008 as a place to grow their own food.

The multiuse site also enables about 400 neighbors to interact in the community space and has a café that serves affordable food—locally grown, of course. R-Urban also offers a range of eco-friendly learning opportunities, such as how-to courses on composting and beekeeping.

The site was developed by the architects of Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, who say they have not been given any indication of whether local leaders intend to relocate their award-winning project, which has attracted interest from major universities and architectural firms around the world.

“We are disappointed and angry,” Doina Petrescu, a University of Sheffield professor and an architect who helped create the project at AAA, told TakePart via email. “The city was supposed to be a partner in this project built with EU grants, and since the municipality has changed they are destroying the project.”

A petition to stop construction of the parking lot says that after the March 2014 elections, the new government unexpectedly pushed to install a temporary parking lot in the space. In June of that year, local officials asked the site to "leave its location without reason given and with no proposal for relocation," the petition says.

Funding for R-Urban will run out on Sept. 30; advocates hope officials will change their minds about paving over their corner of suburban paradise.

Colombes’ mayor did not respond to The Guardian’s request for comment. Hopefully officials will know what they’ve got before it’s gone.