Urban Farming Movement Sweeps Across Havana, Cuba Providing 50% of Fresh Food

by , 08/18/11

Urban Farming Movement in Havana, cuban urban cultivation, agrarian production havana, sustainable city farming, urban farming cuba, food production cuba

Urban agriculture is a refreshing sign of people localizing food production by bringing it into the city. But in Havana, Cuba, the farming movement has evolved as an amazing response to the loss of food imports and agricultural inputs towards the end of last century. Following dramatic political changes, and the ensuing economic, ecological and social crisis, agrarian production was seen as key to food security. This movement towards urban cultivation systems continues to sweep across the city, and according to recent reports, now over 50 per cent of the city’s fresh produce is grown with its boundaries.

Urban Farming Movement in Havana, cuban urban cultivation, agrarian production havana, sustainable city farming, urban farming cuba, food production cuba

Across the city many of Havana’s residents have become creative gardeners, planting wherever they can, and often on concrete ground; in backyards, disused and derelict spaces, on porches, rooftops and balconies. These urban farmers make the most of the space they have, maximising with multilayer planting on self constructed terraces or by using the ground in innovative ways through nurturing specific plants for shade or soil nutrition. Depending on the needs of the gardener and specifics of the space, each site cultivates various agricultural produce, with organic fertilizers being the most common form of aid, mostly from household food compost.

There are a few different types of agricultural projects, but the city’s popular gardens (huertos populares) – which range from a few square meters to three hectares – are the most common. Back in 1995 this number was estimated at 26,600 throughout Havana’s 43 urban districts. The amount of people working on one site also varies, with up to seventy gardeners sharing a space.

With the support from the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture and Havana’s city government the grassroots movement became the Urban Agriculture Department in 1994 that worked to secure land use rights and provide land for free for urban gardeners. This continues today, providing organic agriculture advice and selling agricultural supplies such as seeds. Increasing all the time, Cuba’s urban farms are generating more produce and constantly improving quality. With a visible impact on food security, the natural beauty of the otherwise abandoned spaces, and improved general diet and health, the results are an encouraging sign of changes to come.

Via Sustainable Cities

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  1. bayarrah August 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Very informative. I have begun planting a demonstration garden in my yard – front & back in an effort to demonstrate in my community by example the benefits of growing our own food. Thank you for this supporting information.

  2. lazyreader August 19, 2011 at 8:17 am

    “Following dramatic political changes” by that you mean the Revolution and eventual Castro regime. After more than 50 years, there is much more poverty in Cuba than ever before except for Castro and his gang who are the new millionaires. Castro maybe out of office, still the 11 million Cubans have to suffer the exploitation of the nigh-omnipotent state, rationed food, lack of housing and the indignity of being second class citizens in their own country.


    Maybe we should loosen the embargo to permit food stuffs to enter Cuba.


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