Sunday, February 2, 2014
Cuba: lessons in agriculture
The Willits News
Submitted by Madge Strong
Film, Slide Show & Discussion, Feb. 9
Willits mayor and WELL president Holly Madrigal had the opportunity to visit Cuba for two weeks in late 2013. She will share a video, slides and her stories of traveling in Cuba at a WELL-sponsored event on Sunday Feb. 9, 4 p.m. at Little Lake Grange.
Cuba is sometimes called the "Accidental Eden" because dramatic political conditions, including a 50-year trade embargo from the United States and subsequent collapse of trade with the USSR, have shaped this small island into a beacon of organic agriculture.
Recently some restrictions on travel to Cuba have relaxed and, through the Center for Global Justice and the Organic Consumers Association, Holly and her husband received professional visas to visit Cuba and learn about their agricultural renaissance. They were part of an 18-person delegation representing a diverse mix of farmers, agricultural and political students and just interested folks.
Their sponsor in Havana was the Martin Luther King Center, which serves as a church, educational center and community hub. The center teaches courses in popular education and community organizing. In addition to a Cuban guide and an interpreter, the group benefited from an American guide, Jennifer Ungemach, who previously lived in Willits for three years studying with John Jeavons at the Ecology Action Mini Farm.
The event on Feb. 9 will include a showing of the film "Tierralismo" a documentary about a successful organic farm cooperative near Havana, as well as slides and many stories from Madrigal's visits to cooperative small and larger-scale farms.
Says Madrigal, "Our tour was full of inspiration from these organic pioneers. The challenge now is to bring these lessons home. Could we start a farm co-op that paid good wages to all its members? Our challenges would be different but there are many parallels to this small island nation that imports much of its food (as do we), gets frustrated with its government (as do we), and rejoices in its successes (as do we). Let's continue to learn from each other to secure a positive future for our communities."