Self Sufficiency Through Urban Farming

Lessons from a successful urban farming effort can be applied to achieve resource independence aside from just food.
March 22, 2014, 9am PDT | Helen Brown
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University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment

Though Cuba's urban farming efforts were caused by severe food shortage as a result of the collapse of the Soviet bloc and end of trade, Carey Clouse shows that the country's combined grassroots movement and top-down urban farming policies can be employed by other communities seeking food or other resource independence.

Combatting food shortage required “prioritising organic farming methods,” government-sponsored “training and support, hosting many dozens of subsidised agricultural stores, three compost production sites, seven artisanal pesticide labs and 40 urban veterinary clinics,” as well as community “guerrilla gardening initiatives [that] blossomed into new state-supported urban farming programmes.”

One of the successes of Cuba's agricultural resurrection is its “systematic approach to rethinking urban landscapes for more productive means: food production infrastructure has been woven into the city fabric, with interventions that range in size from backyard gardens to large peri-urban farms.” The ability to seize an agricultural opportunity at every scale is evident as food is grown in “balcony garden to the multi-hectare fields that comprise Havana’s greenbelt” to “vacant and blighted properties within the city...demonstrat[ing] that productivity can be infused into hardened urban landscapes.”

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Published on Monday, March 17, 2014 in Architectural Review
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