At the end of October 2014, thirteen delegates from the Schumacher Center for a New Economics traveled to Cuba to study its progress in developing sustainable food systems.
We visited family farms in the Pinar del Rio Province, a large cooperative farm in the Alamar district on the outskirts of Havana, and the gardens of an ecological village in the Sierra del Rosario mountains, receiving a warm welcome everywhere we went. We met with agricultural agencies and their research counterparts. We even received an unexpected request for a meeting with the Foreign Ministry. We ate well; listened to exceptional music in the troubadour tradition; danced late into the night; and were amazed by the range and sophistication of Cuban contemporary art. We fell in love with the landscape of the countryside and the architecture of Havana. All of which gave us a chance to witness an economy and culture in transition.
Greg Watson, then the Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture and now Director of Policy and Systems Design for the Schumacher Center, was part of the delegation. Below are excerpts from his report on lessons learned from the trip and his suggestions for the Schumacher Center's continued exchange with the people of Cuba: