Growing saffron on rooftops !

Plant and run urban farms that consume no water, energy or chemicals, and create islands of greenery to shelter urban biodiversity

Photo of Amela du Bessey
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Amela du Bessey

Initiative's representative date of birth

16 octobre 1977

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • France

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

France : Paris, Montrouge, Ivry sur Seine, soon Lyon and Rouen Next year: more cities in Europe

Website or social media url(s)

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €50k - €100k

Organization Type

  • For-profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

My 3 sisters and myself, living in Paris, were craving nature in our day to day life. We noticed that the saffron was happy, grown in urban conditions, and decided to embark on this adventure and cover the cities with flowers!

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Our cities show entire hectares of roofs and artificial surfaces which are deadly for biodiversity and generate terrible heat islands in the hot season.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our low tech, resilient and easily replicable installations allow us to grow an exceptional plant without consuming water, energy or chemicals. We use all parts of the plant, including the petals, so as not to generate waste. Our urban farms become staging places for city fauna: insects, birds, small mammals, which do not harm our crops which they do not identify as edible. We promote this welcome by installing insect hotels and birdhouses on our saffron beds. These formerly mineral surfaces become places of freshness and life. They are also meeting places for city dwellers who come to visit us.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

We are to our knowledge the first to have implemented urban agriculture projects without irrigation, with yields in line with our forecasts and a very high quality product, which has been chosen by talented chefs and pastry chefs.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

In 2020, we plan to federate the saffron farmers located in the countryside in France, so that the visibility we benefit from can be shared with less frequented areas, and so that everyone can easily find the nearest sfaranière near him to visit. .

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

In the fall of 2019, we received over 500 people on our rooftops during our saffron harvest . We met all kinds of ages, origins and situations. We currently host enthusiastic groups of visitors several times a week, and welcome pro bono certain sensitive audiences (children with disabilities, groups of disadvantaged women, school visits ...)

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We would like to develop a franchise system so that farms similar to ours can be developed in other major cities in France and then in other countries.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

Our initiative, beyond its benefits for biodiversity and against climate change, makes it possible to "relocate" the production of saffron which is mainly imported, and to give birth to ultra local production everywhere around our urban farms and the farms of our rural saffron partners

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We made the first investments through bank loans and using our own savings. The sale of saffron and workshops generates an income that allows us to finance our operating expenses and repay our debt : our activity is already financially balanced.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

4 co-founding sisters, Don one full time and the others part time. A full-time intern, a part-time gardener, a project manager in each new city. For the saffron packaging, the team of a partner ESAT (disabled workers)

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email


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