Student Researcher: Caitlin Ruxton
Faculty Evaluator: Chip McAuley
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba planted thousands of urban cooperative gardens to offset reduced rations of imported food. In the wake of three hurricanes that wiped out 30% of Cuba’s farm crops, the country has turned again to urban farming to keep its people fed. Fifteen percent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas, a figure that is expected to grow as food prices rise, urban populations grow and environmental concerns increase. In Cuba, urban gardens have bloomed in vacant lots, alongside parking lots and even on city rooftops. They sprang from a military plan for Cuba to be self-sufficient in case of war, and have evolved into a world model for localized food sovereignty and sustainablilty. They have proven extremely popular, occupying 35,000 hectares (86,000 acres) of land across the Caribbean island. The gardens sell their produce directly to the community, so are immune to the volatility of fuel and transportation costs, and, out of necessity, grow their crops organically. In September 2008, the government began renting out unused state-owned lands to farmers and cooperatives.
“In Eat Local Movement, Cuba is Years Ahead” Esteban Israel , Rueters, 12/16/08