THE SPATIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CUBAN URBAN AGRICULTURE

At the scale of a city one can observe the relative distribution of urban agriculture sites in relation to each other and to other urban land use. At the scale of a single urban agriculture site, layout, form and materiality can be observed, and finally, at the human scale, the edges across which interactions occur, between citizen, cultivator and cultivated landscape, can be observed.

One of the issues we wanted to establish was how big urban agriculture plots need to be to provide full-time employment and be economically viable.

Table 17.1

Size

Location

Farmers

Use of crops

Yield

State farms for

1 hectare or

Peri-urban

Voluntary

Feed state

1996:

producers

more

cultivation by

workers,

0.34 kg/

consumption

workers

support day-

m2.yr

‘Autoconsumo

care centres,

s Estatales’

homes for

2000:

elderly, and

0.6 kg/

facilities for new born babies, surplus sold to workers

m2.yr

Community

Less than

Urban or peri-

One person or

To supply

1996:

gardens

1000 m2

urban, vacant

family

cultivator or

1-2 kg/

(plots)

lots,

family

m2.yr

‘Huertos

unexploited

Populares

area within

2000:

(Parcela)’

educational

8-12 kg/

or health facilities. State owned or private

m2.yr

Community

Typically

Urban or peri-

One person or

Feed

1996:

gardens

between

urban, state

family, several

producers and

1-2 kg/

(intensive

1000 m2 and

owned or

families or co-

for trade

m2.yr

cultivation

garden)

3000 m2

private land

operative

2000:

‘Huertos

8-12 kg/

Populares

(Huerto

Intensivo)’

m2.yr

Urban

Typically

Vacant urban

Groups of

Produce for

1996:

community

between

sites, not

individuals

trade and

3 kg/m2.yr

garden

2000 m2 and

suitable for

formed into a

small-scale

‘Organoponic

5000 m2

direct

collective.

consumption

2000:

os Populares’

agriculture

Institutional

by producers

20 kg/

use, require

technical

m2. yr

imported soil

support and

and

containers

advice

Table 17.1 continued

Size

Location

Farmers

Use of crops

Yield

High yield

Typically

Government

Commercially

Produce for

1994:

urban

over

allotted

viable work

sale to the

12 kg/m2.yr

gardens

10 000 m2

vacant urban

centres or

population and

Organoponic os de Alto Rendimiento’

sites, not suitable for direct agriculture use, soil and containers for growing brought in

co-operatives

tourist sector

2000: 25 kg/ m2.yr

Source-. Caridad Cruz and Sanchez Medina (2003)

In addition to this we were interested in the precise layouts adopted to facilitate efficient growing and the patterns of crop rotation to judge how season­ality is reflected on the ground.

At a smaller scale we wanted to observe the interface between the urban agriculture plots and the city’s inhabitants. We were interested in finding out how the city and its population interact with these plots.

Our studies began in Havana, and we then moved to Cienfuegos, a provincial city south of Havana, which has been referred to as the capital of urban agricul­ture in Cuba (Socorro Castro, 2001) and finally we visited Rodas, a small rural town near Cienfuegos.