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Press Release
July 18, 2019

 

Media Inquiries, Contact
Sera Deva, Farmer Programs Association
(828) 208-0220
farmer-programs@organicgrowersschool.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Organic Growers School offers an Agroecology trip to Cuba January of 2020

Asheville, NC. Organic Growers School is partnering with Food First and Altruvistas to offer their second Cuba Agroecology Tour from January 7 through 16, 2020, with a focus on the country’s intensive sustainable agriculture practices. The tour, to be comprised of growers, community leaders, educators, and activists who are passionate about sustainable agriculture, will begin in Havana and travel to destinations such as Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, and Matanzas. The cost of the trip is $2,900 and will serve, in part, as a fundraiser for Organic Growers School (OGS), a 501c3 non-profit organization. There are a limited number of partial scholarships for farmers and food activists to attend. This tour and all registrants will not be affected by recent political actions to restrict American travel to Cuba.

The trip offers participants on the ground exposure to Cuban agriculture and the food sovereignty movement and will highlight their engagement with the global food system. The intention is for participants to acquire the knowledge and strategies to create just, sustainable, local, and healthy food systems in their own communities.

For those less familiar with Cuban agriculture, the country has had a focus on organic production methods since the 1970s. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 ended Cuba’s access to agricultural inputs overnight, propelling them into what is now known as the “Special Period”—a crisis of reduced resources and increased hunger. The country embarked on a massive and rapid conversion to agroecology in an attempt to boost food production. The tour will focus on small farmers, sustainable food systems, and national security. The lessons and insights for the development of a secure and sustainable food system worldwide are many.

“The purpose of this tour is not to romanticize or glorify Cuban agriculture,” says Sera Deva, the trip organizer. “It is instead an opportunity to learn about what a country-wide commitment to sustainable, local agriculture can look like. It will broaden and deepen our region’s wisdom in creating alternative food systems. Our goals are to show our participants the importance of cooperative farming models and sustainable farming techniques, as well as encouraging them to think critically about practical and governmental structures that could support a thriving growing community.”

Local hosts will provide an overview of Cuban history, culture, politics, agriculture, and ecology. Additionally, the group will meet with specialists who will provide background on the country’s transition into agroecological farming practices and the national policies that prioritize organic farming and the remediation of hunger. With a firm commitment to sustainability and justice, this tour will connect participants to farmers, consumers, activists, NGOs, policymakers and experts working to transform the global food system.

Tour highlights will include the following:

  • Discuss agroecology with Fernando Funes, co-author of Food First’s book Sustainable Agriculture & Resistance in Cuba.
  • Visit community permaculture and agricultural education, and food conservation projects.
  • Discuss changes in US-Cuba relations and how they might affect the future of tourism and agriculture in Cuba.
  • Meet with the National Association for Small Farmers (ANAP) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Meet with a variety of small farmers and farmers’ cooperatives.

For the purposes of this trip, OGS is partnering with Food First, a “people’s think tank” dedicated to ending the injustices that cause hunger and helping communities to take back control of their food systems. Food First has been offering tours to Cuba for more than 20 years with the organizing assistance of Altruvistas, a socially responsible and philanthropic travel company that has facilitated 20,000 travelers to Cuba.

Potential tour participants can visit the OGS FAQ page which answers questions such as, “Why Cuba?,” “What are the legal considerations when traveling to Cuba?,” “Why Travel with Organic Growers School?,” “What does the tuition cover?,” and “What can I expect to experience?” Traveler testimonials from previous trips, the full itinerary, as well as a photo gallery can also be found on the website.

For more information on the “Organic Revolution—A 9-Day Trip to Cuba with Organic Growers School,” visit  www.organicgrowersschool.org/events/travel-to-cuba, call (828) 214-7833, or email farmer-programs@organicgrowersschool.org.

Sera Deva

Author: Sera Deva

Sera Deva has a B.S. in Microbiology & Agroecology from The Evergreen State College. She works with OGS as the Farmer Programs Coordinator and Conference Curriculum Coordinator, serves on the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) Board of Directors, and is the Administrative Director for The Firefly Gathering. When she’s not geeking out over genetics, systems theory or soil hydrology, she spends her time growing and eating food in the South Toe Valley in Burnsville, NC.

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