Bouvet Pierre Frederic, Co-Founder, and CTO Cueillette Urbaine tells us how they use ecological technics to cultivate tasty herbs, vegetables, and fish.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: I’m fine, and hopefully, my family will be good too. We don’t have any COVID cases. It’s psychologically difficult because, in France, we have a curfew at 6 pm. Social life is very impacted by the sanitary crisis, and we find the time long.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cueillette Urbaine.
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: I am passionate about the plant world for a very long time. I am graduated with a vegetal biology master’s degree from Paris-Saclay University (15th shanghai ranking). Then I worked as a research engineer at INRA (National Agronomics French Institute) and as Plant Scientist at an Agricool startup. After these jobs, I created my own company Cueillette Urbaine in 2016 to put my knowledge at the service of a better world closer to my values.
How does Cueillette Urbaine innovate?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: We use ecological technics to cultivate tasty herbs, vegetables, and fish. We have created turnkey systems using aeroponics and aquaponics technics. Our farms are designed to consume as little energy as possible while being easy to use. With a bioclimatic greenhouse, we can cultivate all the year and avoid climatic hazards. We use only organic fertilizers for aeroponics, and the fish are fed with the breeding of micro-algae for aquaponics. Our value is the circular economy. Soilless culture has a higher yield than soil cultivation, with a 20-25% increase in plant yield, even a productivity 2 to 5 times higher according to certain experts (FAO, 2014). Whether for hydroponics or aquaponics, water consumption is much lower than for conventional soil agriculture: 90% less water consumption (FAO, 2014). We work with people in reintegration, and we organize workshops that focus on gardening, season cooking, or natural cosmetics.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: With the coronavirus pandemic, we observe a decrease in the request for quotes during the containment phases. All the business around training and workshops are stopped for 1 year. Fortunately, we have a company that works for ecological development and amelioration of wellbeing in cities, so we continued to sell urban farms and vegetable gardens.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: When we are an entrepreneur we make difficult choices. We stay in our values, and we refuse to develop Indoor farming because we think it’s not sustainable in the area where we could cultivate with natural light.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: During this crisis, we use teleworking a lot, and sometimes we have used partial unemployment.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: We are the only company that proposes a large diversity of innovative and productive cultural technics such as aquaponics, aeroponics, and permaculture, which give us the greatest adaptability to urban areas! We have developed innovative fertilization solutions for our farm, and our systems are turnkey. We have competitors in the urban farming production market, but there is a big difference between them and us! We sell urban farms and not vegetables like our competitors. This business model reduces some risks: starting investment is supported by our clients, and we don’t have the problem of logistics and price exposure for vegetables.
Your final thoughts?
Bouvet Pierre Frederic: With Cueillette Urbaine, fruits and vegetables come to you on your own rooftop!