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Havana Homegrown: Leadership from the Global South

Two things happened to me yesterday:

One, I visited the Beltsvile Agricultural Research Center, a beacon a agricultural research right in our own backyards and where the Sowing Seeds Here and Now! summit is going to be held.  Scientists there are doing amazing research on all sorts of topics very relevant to urban agriculture: community scale composting, high tunnel construction, livestock and public health, and the effect of agriculture on our natural resources.

Then, I watched this video, called Havana Homegrown, about a recent trip to Cuba to learn more about their urban agriculture efforts.  Cubans, not out of scientific foresight, have some of the most advance yet simple urban agriculture programs worldwide.  Since the Revolution, they’ve developed how to grow food in their cities for no other reason than survival.

It strikes me that as northerners (people from the United States and other developed countries), we need to start looking more at case studies and examples of success not just from ourselves, but from our leaders in the Global South.  My hope, and my excitement, is that we will see a merge of the two hemispheres of thought by taking lessons and accepting leadership from places like Havana, and perfecting those techniques in places like Beltsvile.  It also excites me, and it must be stated with pride, that this agricultural revolution is not top down, North to South, developed to underdeveloped, but rather from the grassroots.  Or, as Will Allen would say, its from below the grassroots, where the worms live.

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