Urban Farmer Perceptions of Agroecology and Worker Agency in Cuba

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Grantz, Michael
McGranaham, Devan
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Scholarship Sewanee 2013 , University of the South , Cuba , Organic farming , Urban agriculture , Food shortage , Agrochemicals
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the small island nation of Cuba has become famous for the prevalence of urban agroecology, which grew rapidly out of a harsh food shortage, economic crisis, and scarcity of agrochemicals. State institutions were and are critical in supporting this movement that began almost spontaneously out of necessity. However, there is little existing research on urban farmer perceptions of agroecology, and even less farmer-based research on the amount of control urban farm workers have over their plots. This study addresses these issues with 41 semi-structured interviews of urban farmers in Havana. Interview responses were then analyzed in order to identify concrete attitudes and ideas of farmers. The key findings of this study are that (i) urban farmers overwhelmingly understand the health and environmental hazards of agrochemicals and do not support their use in an urban setting and (ii) urban farmers do not perceive themselves as having a large amount of individual agency and control in their work.