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Category — Cuba

Minneapolis picks up urban agriculture tips from Cuba

Members of a Twin Cities delegation visit a Havana co-op that specializes in compost using worms. Photo courtesy of Ben Somogyi.

Minneapolis is rolling out a new compost program for residents this year.

By Erin Golden
Star Tribune
January 26, 2015


Two Minneapolis City Council aides were part of a Twin Cities group that recently spent more than a a week in Cuba, visiting co-ops and compost sites and picking up information on urban agriculture.

Robin Garwood, a policy aide for Council Member Cam Gordon and Ben Somogyi, policy aide for Council Member Lisa Bender, said the trip offered a chance to get a new perspective on agriculture efforts championed by both council members. The two joined 10 other people, several of them with Stone’s Throw Urban farm, on the “food sovereignty” trip organized by think tank Food First.

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February 5, 2015   Comments Off

What we can learn from Cuba’s agroecology

cuba sitThis Cuban hydroponics farm uses specialized irrigation methods to grow vegetables in smaller, non rural areas. Photo: Javier Galeano.

How this island nation feeds its people is a success story worth considering.

By William G. Moseley
Star Tribune
December 21, 2014
William G. Moseley is professor and chair of geography at Macalester College in St. Paul. His latest book is “An Introduction to Human-Environment Geography: Local Dynamics and Global Processes.”


Unlike modern American agriculture — long characterized by its energy-intensive approach that involves mechanization, hybrid seeds, inorganic fertilizers and pesticides — Cuban scientists needed to find a way to boost production without increasing fossil-fuel consumption. They did this through the careful study of ecological interactions in farm fields (that is, agroecology). By using plant associations — such as legumes to fix nitrogen for grain crops, the intensive production of compost and the use of biopesticides — Cuban scientists demonstrated that agroecology was as or more effective at increasing crop production than conventional methods.

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January 6, 2015   Comments Off

Cuba’s Urban Gardens: health risks stemming from urban or semi-urban agriculture


The notorious case of Cuba’s largest dumpsite, located on 100 St, in Havana’s neighborhood of Marianao, is illustrative of this. Its residues have affected nearly all surrounding crops, both at urban vegetable gardens and traditional croplands.

By Isbel Diaz Torres
Havana Times
Oct 14, 2014
(Must read. Mike)


Under these types of conditions, as in those in which crops are close to highways, contamination through the absorption of heavy metals found in soils, air or water, is a dangerous risk.

Only the community’s real involvement in the handling of such spaces could guarantee the efficient protection of crops against the many contaminating agents out there. Cuba, however, has merely created more State establishments, akin to rationed product points, where vegetables are simply sold, and, to top things off, in a manner subordinate to the inefficient Ministry of Agriculture.

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October 24, 2014   Comments Off

Student Travel Award – Alice Claydon will head to Cuba to study urban agriculture


The 28-year-old is currently completing a postgraduate diploma in Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University

Landscape Institute
Sept 12, 2014


Why is urban agriculture so important?

“I’m looking at it from the perspective of increasing urbanisation being quite an important factor that landscape architects have to consider in their designs in the future. Since 2010, for the first time in human history, more people around the world now live in a city rather than in the countryside. By 2050, this proportion will rise to 7 out of every 10 people, or the equivalent of 6.7 billion people, living in an urban environment. The highly imperative and pressing issue of how to sustainably support these growing urban populations is already being considered and explored by landscape architects around the world.

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October 16, 2014   Comments Off

Concern that Cuba’s Organic Urban Gardens Now Cater to Private Businesses

Restaurante El Templete, Havana, Cuba.

A model that sought to increase the availability of farm products (particularly fresh produce) and aimed at benefitting the low-income population through improved nutrition and job creation, has become the chief supplier of Havana’s private restaurants.

By Isbel Diaz Torres
Havana Times
Sept 17, 2014
(Must read. Mike)


Early in the morning, while most of us are heading to our places of work, the owners of private restaurants send out their buyers to load up on any green thing to be found around the city.

Three or four cars parked in front of an organic garden is an unequivocal sign that one won’t be able to buy anything there, as the trunks of those cars are likely to be filled up with products. Before noon, there no vegetables left on the stands.

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October 15, 2014   Comments Off

Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba


Sinan Koont has spent the last several years researching urban agriculture in Cuba, including field work at many sustainable farms on the island.

By Sinan Koont
University Press of Florida (December 11, 2011)
Sinan Koont is associate professor of economics at Dickinson College.
A volume in the series Contemporary Cuba, edited by John M. Kirk
208 pages

“Pushed by necessity but enabled by its existing social and educational policies, Cuba in the 1990s launched the most extensive program of urban sustainable agriculture in the world. This study is to date the only book-length investigation in either English or Spanish of this important national experiment in transforming the environmental, economic, and social nature of today’s dominant system of producing food.”—Al Campbell, University of Utah

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August 11, 2014   Comments Off

Farming Cuba – Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up


By 1998 there were more than 8,000 urban farms in Havana producing nearly half of the country’s vegetables.

By Carey Clouse
Princeton Architectural Press
April 29, 2014
Carey Clouse teaches architecture and urbanism at UMass Amherst and is a partner at Crooked Works, a firm addressing the intersection between architecture and sustainability

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Cuba found itself solely responsible for feeding a nation that had grown dependent on imports and trade subsidies. With fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides disappearing overnight, citizens began growing their own organic produce anywhere they could find space, on rooftops, balconies, vacant lots, and even school playgrounds. By 1998 there were more than 8,000 urban farms in Havana producing nearly half of the country’s vegetables.

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May 6, 2014   Comments Off

Private sector bites into Cuban state food sales


Private food distribution networks take shape
First wholesale market opens in Havana
State share of food sales declines

By Marc Frank
March 27, 2013

HAVANA, March 27 (Reuters) – Cubans are building private food distribution networks from the farm through to retail outlets as communist authorities gradually dismantle the state’s monopoly on the purchase and sale of agricultural products.

The country’s first wholesale produce market is up and running on the outskirts of Havana and across the island farmers report they are selling more of their goods directly to customers, ranging from hotels to individual vendors.

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April 6, 2013   Comments Off

Three part documentary about Cuba’s urban agriculture – “Révolution verte urbaine”

Part 3 of 3. See all video here part way down the page.

60 minutes of footage in Spanish with French subtitles

Semences – Les Racines du Nouveau Monde
Agriculture Urbaine, Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba
By Nicolas van Caloen and Juan Pablo Lepore
Collectif Documentaire Semences
Uploaded on Dec 12, 2011
(Must see. Mike)

En 1959 c’est la révolution à Cuba. Les États-Unis, mécontent de ce pied de nez révolutionnaire, décide d’imposer un embargo international contre Cuba qui sera ainsi forcé de se tourner vers l’URSS afin de maintenir ses exportations et importations. En 1989, c’est la chute de l’URSS, Cuba se retrouve dans une situation économique très précaire créant un problème de sécurité alimentaire. Pour solutionner ce problème, Cuba choisit de développer l’agriculture urbaine et écologique. 20 ans plus tard, Cuba est un leader mondial en la matière. Dans ce documentaire, avec l’aide de l’INIFAT (Instituto de Investigaciones Fundamentales en la Agricultura Tropical), nous montrons l’ampleur, la diversité et l’ingéniosité des projets d’agriculture urbaine dans la région de La Habana. Une nouvelle révolution verte est en cours!

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March 18, 2013   Comments Off

Sowing Change: The Making of Havana’s Urban Agriculture

sowing change

“The author takes us inside Havana’s urban agriculture movement showing its linkages with the economic crisis and the societal changes that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.”

By Adriana Premat
Vanderbilt University Press


Following the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, Cuba found itself struggling to find its place in a new geopolitical context, while dealing with an unprecedented agricultural and food crisis that experts feel foreshadows the future of many countries across the globe. Sowing Change traces the evolution of the officially endorsed urban agriculture movement in the capital city of Havana, considering its political significance for the Cuban government and its import for transnational actors in the field of sustainable development. But the analysis does not stop at official understandings and representations of this movement.

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February 11, 2013   Comments Off

Photo Essay: Urban Agriculture in Cuba

Photo by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky. A homage to the history of Cuban urban agriculture in the home of Oscar Aleman Perez in Havana. In the 1970s and ’80s, Raul Castro, as Defense Minister, encouraged the development of urban agriculture and oversaw experimental organic farming in military facilities. In those days, the organoponicos, as they came to be known, were introduced in preparation for a possible worldwide embargo of Cuba; today they are a training ground and growth area for Raul Castro’s economic reforms that allow for more small business.

Photos by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky

By Noah Friedman-Rudovsky
North American Congress on Latin America
Oct 18 2012

Noah Friedman-Rudovsky is a freelance photojournalist and videographer. He received a Fulbright fellowship for photography of Bolivia’s social movements in 2004. He later spent two years as official photographer of President Evo Morales. Noah is a contributor to The New York Times, and his coverage of Latin America has also appeared in The New Yorker, Der Spiegel, Paris Match, Time Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, among others. He works frequently for NGOs such as Oxfam, UNICEF, Planned Parenthood, and The Carter Center in the region.

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October 20, 2012   Comments Off

Urban agriculture in Havana’s home gardens and small-scale plots

Student does research on the ground in Cuba for her master’s thesis on urban and peri-urban agriculture

By Marion Girard Cisneros
One World


My research findings are initially disappointing. Small-scale urban farmers are partially able to decrease the share of the income they spend on food. The sustainability of self-sufficiency depends on farmers’ ability and capacity to cope with structural constraints posed by urban pollution and insufficient access to water and land. In other words, almost in every case, household food production does not confer high levels of food security.

But the crux of the matter is that UPA has a significant potential in securing other households needs, which can be traced to the attitudes of the farmers. On the one hand, high levels of human capital resources available to farmers (agricultural skills, knowledge of the local environment and resourcefulness) results in to higher output levels (be it in fungible or real income) and lesser dependence on external inputs.

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October 19, 2012   2 Comments

Report from Liz Postlethwaite’s trip to Cuba researching Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture in Cuba: trip during November/December 2011

By Liz Postlethwaite
38 page ebook report – online
Mar 22, 2012


Planning my Visit – I began planning my trip to Cuba nine months in advance of my departure. I knew that Cuba was a difficult place to communicate with via e-mails, and that I needed a specific visa in order to access any agricultural sites on the island. In order to secure this visa I needed an invitation from a reputable scientist or scientific organization in the country.

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August 22, 2012   Comments Off

Reusing Empty Lots for Agriculture in Havana

Photo by Melissa Garcia Lamarca.

More than 200 gardens in Havana that supply more than 90 percent of residents’ fruit and vegetables

By Melissa Garcia Lamarca.
Aug 3, 2012


If you drink a mojito in Havana, there’s a chance that the mint it contains came from the Alamar nursery on the outskirts of the city. The 27-acre Vivero Alamar is one of Cuba’s most successful neighborhood-managed, worker-owned cooperative urban organic farms. It began in 1997 when Miguel Angel Salcines López, a mid-level Ministry of Agriculture agronomist and the co-op’s current president, asked to use a nine-acre plot of abandoned “waste land.”

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August 4, 2012   Comments Off

Havana Urban Agriculture – Infrastructure for Food Gardens

A banana orchard grows where a home once stood, within a dense neighborhood. Photo by Claire Napawan-Seybert.

An interview with Claire Napawan-Seybert, who is a landscape architect, and a professor in the U.C. Davis Department of Environmental Design.

May 3, 2012


Is there anything specific about the infrastructure of the city that you feel contributes to the success of urban farming? Are there any lessons American cities might learn from a physical planning perspective?

Government support was instrumental for training new farmers, making urban land available, providing equipment and growing materials. Being a communist nation, where the government owns nearly all urban land, makes assessment and leasing of land more facile than in the U.S. Issues [we have here] such as high urban property values, etc. are not issues there, since the buying and selling of property is illegal in Cuba.

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June 25, 2012   Comments Off