The sustainable organic farm in Cojimar, Cuba may not feature Native Cuban food plants but in many ways Cuba is leading the urban agriculture revolution worldwide.
Beginning with this month’s newsletter, we will alternate between examples of regenerative farms/outstanding sustainable agriculture farms and features about native gardens every other month.
Examples of regenerative organic farms we are planning to build in Santa Clara County will have more elements of local ecological derivation than our garden of the month for March located in Cojimar, Cuba.
Our farms to be built here—with the support of many partners—will have many native edible plants, expansive native hedgerows, and representation of our local grasslands, woodlands or riparian corridors. They will also include more elements found in regen farms worldwide.
Although Cojimar may not grow Native food plants, their garden is exemplary in many ways.
Their new methods to growing food were borne out of necessity when Russia pulled out of Cuba in 1989. When the Russians left, the import of oil and phosphate based fertilizer stopped so the farms that had relied on petroleum stopped.
A new sustainable farm emerged. By 1994, they had made the transition to small polyculture urban farms. They have not looked back.
Now more than half of all food eaten by Havana people is grown locally.
Here are some distinguishing characteristics of Cojimar.
- They farm in raised beds, which are mixed with Compost and soil and then fertilized with vermicomposting tea. I was fortunate enough to visit Cojimar two years ago to listen in on an informational session with the farm manager, a retired engineer.
- About 30 people work there. They have 10 horses for manure that is used 50/50 with garden waste compost for vermicomposting.
- They make a tea and spray this on their food plants.
- The farm feeds 15-20k people. They sell their food there and other local venues. They set the prices.
- Since Cuba is semi-tropical, they can grow many crops per year. Their crops are varied, not just limited to monoculture crops like American Big Ag farms that are chemically dependent.