Sustainable Agriculture Rooted in Community/Nature’s Friends

Sustainable Agriculture Rooted in Community / Nature's Friends
October 2 – 11, 2015

"Cuba is involved in the most comprehensive conversion from chemical to organic agriculture that any nation has yet attempted." — Peter Rosset, Institute for Food and Development Policy 1993.
Cuban Farmer using animal traction with screenhouses (reverse greenhouses to deal with tropical heat) in the background.
Eco Cuba Network and Nature's Friends, a DC-based permaculture/environmental organization founded by Rev. Marjani Dele, are pleased to invite urban and rural sustainable development activists to participate in a US delegation to Cuba, focused on the remarkable progress Cuba has achieved in the area of organic agriculture.
How did Cuba make the transition from conventional industrial agriculture employing a small percentage of Cuban workers to the island-wide, community-led system enjoyed today? Are there unique aspects of Cuba's social policy and practice that have enabled Cuba's transformation over the last 25 years?
Participants will also meet with Cubans involved in related environmental and social programs; visit Afro Cuban cultural centers and neighborhood development projects; and, of course, have ample opportunity to enjoy Cuba's vibrant cultural scene!
In the early 1990's, Cuba's agricultural system and food supply were decimated by the tightening of the U.S. embargo and the collapse of the Soviet Union (which had supplied the majority of Cuba's food imports (chemical fertilizers and pesticides, fuel for transportation, feed for farm animals, and almost 60% of Cuba's food). Cubans referred to these years as the "Special Period."

Due to the severe shortage of hard currency for the importation of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Cuba was forced, in the early 1990's to begin to practice organic agriculture on a nationwide scale, with some very exciting results. There are currently over 10,000 organic gardens across the country involving tens of thousands of Cuban citizens. In the late 1990's, the Cuban Association for Organic Agriculture was granted the International Right Livelihood Award (the Alternative Nobel Prize) for its efforts.

Organic agriculture continues to be supported and expanded at government and grassroots levels. Havana now grows over half its fresh food organically, and locally. According to some agriculturists, Cuba could be self sufficient in the production of many of its basic foods within the next decade.

All Cuban young people are introduced to agriculture and food production as part of their education, spending at least one summer of their high school years, farming in the countryside.

University graduates in agronomy contribute their knowledge of research, technology and administration in both rural and urban agricultural settings. Reversing a disturbing international trend, many educated young Cuban agriculturists return to the countryside because they are now offered a stimulating and productive work environment.

schoolgirls farming
Cuban schoolchildren working in school garden

Please contact coordinator Pam Montanaro by email or call 510-318-4910 for more information on this tour.

Program Highlights may include:

  • City Tour of Havana and Old Havana with Cuban Architect/Urban Planner
  • Alamar, largest urban farm in Havana
  • Farmer's markets
  • Foundation for Nature and Humanity, oldest environmental organization in Cuba and center of Cuban permaculture
  • Permaculture sites in Havana and surrounding provinces
  • INIFAT, Institute of Tropical Agriculture
  • Agrarian University, Mayabeque province
  • Private farms and farm cooperatives in Pinar del Rio
  • Cubasolar, oldest NGO promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Murealando, community arts and ecology project
  • Afro Cuban history and community projects in Regla and Guanabacoa
  • Casa Africa museum and dance performance

1.   Nature's Friends Sample Program

Fee:  $2,800.00
Fee Includes:
  • RT flight Miami/Havana/Miami
  • Cuban visa and required Cuban health insurance
  • Double room accommodations
  • Two meals per day
  • Conference fee
  • Site visits
  • Translation
  • Transportation (with group)
Fee does NOT include airfare to/from Miami from your home city, beverages, gratuities, travel insurance, personal expenditures, etc.
Eco Cuba Network coordinators were co-organizers of the first U.S. delegation to Cuba focused on sustainable agriculture in 1993 and have arranged the travel/logistics for the filmmakers of the award-winning, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, which has now been translated into 14 languages.

Please check out our Resources page for articles, blogs and videos on Sustainable Agriculture in Cuba and other relevant environmental topics.

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