More than subsistence: Small-scale urban agriculture and household livelihoods in Havana, Cuba
Parker, Joanne K.
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In the past 20 years, Cuba has emerged as a world leader in urban agriculture and sustainable development, having shifted its policies and practices toward local, organic food production and self-sufficiency. This collective case study explored small-scale, unwaged urban agriculture and household livelihoods in Havana, Cuba. Data were collected from three case households through participant observation, in-depth interviews, and photos. Two of the families produce fruits, vegetables and animal products, and the third produces organic fertilizers. For these families, agricultural production requires time and labour, but produces multiple material and non-material benefits at the individual, household, and community level. The findings demand a more nuanced view of household livelihoods and agency in the Cuban context, and the notion of agriculture as work vs. leisure. As global concerns about resource depletion and social justice in food systems increase, much can be learned from families and countries that have successfully implemented alternatives.