This Paris-Based Start-Up Is Combining Gastronomy and Sustainable Agriculture
Exclusive Agritecture Interview
In partnership with Autogrow, Agritecture released a global controlled environment agriculture (CEA) census to help share knowledge and push the industry forward. Through this census we met Julie Bounan, the Business Unit Manager in charge of La Plucherie, the start up incubated in InVivo Food & Tech. In this exclusive interview, Julie tells Agritecture how La Plucherie started out of an interest from Chefs trying out hydroponic systems to grow their own local herbs.
AGR: Can you tell us how La Plucherie got started?
JULIE BOUNAN: After conducting market studies to validate the potential market, we concluded chefs want access to local, rare and fresh herbs but without the labor of gardening. The project of La Plucherie was born. I was very excited by the opportunity to work on a project that gathered gastronomy and sustainable agriculture. I was already convinced that to get consumers to eat more vegetables, they need to be proposed more tasty veggie experiences. Chefs have seemed to be good ambassadors of savor and also great leaders for local and sustainable agriculture.
Today, La Plucherie is a start-up incubated in Invivo Food&Tech, the start-up studio of Invivo Group. We plan to move to a new location (Paris City Center) at the end of the year to develop our production and address more clients.
AGR: Can you tell us about La Plucherie’s farming operation?
JB: La Plucherie is a small Indoor growing unit (25 square meters) with the famous “Growtruck”, a showroom of our technical know-how. Once a month we visit our clients with it. The Chefs come into the “Growtruck” to pick herbs and microgreens themselves. We grow exceptional, delicate, rare or intense savors to meet the Chefs requirements and enable them to combine their own range of herbal products. We offer locally grown microgreens, edible flowers, and aromatic herbs. All our vegetal savors are provided alive or freshly picked. Our catalogue includes a wide range of varieties and we grow additional varieties on-demand.
Our engineers have developed innovative and eco-friendly culture techniques. The cultivation environment (temperature, lighting, nutrients, water…) is optimized to fit each plant. This perfect control over the environment enables saving up to 70% of nutrients and 90% of water.
We try to continuously improve the culture techniques and the packaging for delivery. We use biodegradable and compostable baskets, but we are thinking to develop a return system package upon request.
AGR: France is a country known for its food and wine, why are operations like Le Plucherie so important for a city like Paris? What has the overall reception been from chef’s and consumers?
JB: You’re right, in France we are keen to preserve traditional food and “home produce” or “terroirs”. La Plucherie offers the possibility to have exotic products with low carbon print! We will never substitute traditional agriculture, we are a complementary solution to add savors in the plate!
Our message is clear for Chefs: exceptional, delicate, rare or intense savors, local cultivation, 0 pesticide, eco-friendly activity (saving 90% of water, bio-packaging, delivery by walk or in electric vehicle) So we are welcomed by chefs. We also propose to Chefs the possibility to have tailor-made herbs. For example, we’ve developed a specific cabbage for a chef who saw it during a trip in Hong-Kong.
AGR: How does your team work with chefs?
JB: We adapt our cultivation to the demand of Chefs. We work on their Menu, changing it every one to three months. We also suggest for them herbs that add savor and more to the plate. We deliver each week and add always samples of new varieties (from our R&D) to receive feedback. When Chefs love a variety we add it to our catalog!
AGR: In your opinion, do you think the sharing of information and data is important for CEA growers around the world? And if so, why?
JB: Of course! We are all at the beginning of a new activity, new job, new business...we need sharing! The technologies of Indoor farming are not well known yet (materials, medium, lighting, nutrients). We have to improve the global knowledge to be able to grow quality produce and make indoor cultivation part of the future agriculture.
For more information contact Julie Bounan at firstname.lastname@example.org