2020 | 24 | 2 | 85-93
Article title

Urban agriculture in Havana – evidence from empirical research

Title variants
Languages of publication
The aim of this article is to indicate the features of contemporary urban agriculture present in the contiguously built-up areas of Havana. Using an exploratory and classification approach, the authors draw on fieldwork and a prior analysis of satellite and aerial imagery, first to characterize the spatial distribution of urban gardens and then to point to their main intrinsic features, including the methods and organization of production and the functions performed. The research conducted shows that urban agriculture is distributed across the city in an uneven fashion, with the main concentration in districts of lower-density urban construction, which reflects the availability of land resources intentionally left between buildings by modernist planners. The most common production technique applied is organopónico, or organoponics. However, the material commonly used to construct the bordering walls is asbestos, which may pose a significant threat for both producers and consumers. Two case studies are analyzed to exemplify different approaches to organic food production.
Physical description
  • Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  • Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  • Altieri, MA, Companioni, N, Cañizares, K, Murphy, C, Rosset, P, Bourque, M & Nicholls, CI 1999, ‘The greening of the “barrios”: Urban agriculture for food security in Cuba’, Agriculture and Human Values, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 131-140.
  • Aubry, C, Ramamonjisoa, J, Dabat, MH, Rakotoarisoa, J, Rakotondraibe, J, Rabeharisoa, L 2012, ‘Urban agriculture and land use in cities: An approach with the multi-functionality and sustainability concepts in the case of Antananarivo (Madagascar)’, Land Use Policy, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 429–439.
  • Buchmann, C 2009, ‘Cuban home gardens and their role in social–ecological resilience’, Human Ecology, vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 705-721.
  • Chaplowe, SG 1998, ‘Havana’s popular gardens: sustainable prospects for urban agriculture’, Environmentalist, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 47-57.
  • Clausen, R, Clark, B & Longo, SB 2015, ‘Metabolic rifts and restoration: Agricultural crises and the potential of Cuba’s organic, socialist approach to food production’, World Review of Political Economy, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 4-32.
  • Cruz, MC & Medina, RS 2003, Agriculture in the city: A key to sustainability in Havana, Cuba. Ian Randle Publishers.
  • De Bon, H, Parrot, L & Moustier, P 2010, ‘Sustainable urban agriculture in developing countries. A review’, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 21–32.
  • De Zeeuw, H, Van Veenhuizen, R & Dubbeling, M 2011, ‘The role of urban agriculture in building resilient cities in developing countries’, The Journal of Agricultural Science, vol. 149, no. 1, pp. 153-163.
  • Díaz, JP & Harris, P 2005, ‘Urban agriculture in Havana: opportunities for the future’ in CPULs. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities, ed. A Viljoen, Elsevier, Oxford, pp. 135-145.
  • Epelman, M 1993, ‘The export of hazards to the third world: The case of asbestos in Latin America’, NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 48-56.
  • Febles-González, JM, Tolón-Becerra, A, Lastra-Bravo, X & Acosta-Valdés, X 2011, ‘Cuban agricultural policy in the last 25 years. From conventional to organic agriculture’, Land Use Policy, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 723-735.
  • Forster, D, Buehler, Y & Kellenberger, T 2009, ‘Mapping urban and peri-urban agriculture using high spatial resolution satellite data’, Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-12.
  • Górna, A 2018, ‘Urban agriculture: an opportunity for sustainable development’ in Globalización y desarrollo sostenible, eds. M Czerny & CA Serna Mendoza, WUW, Warsaw, pp. 129-142.
  • Guitart, D, Pickering, C & Byrne, J 2012, ‘Past results and future directions in urban community gardens research’, Urban forestry & urban greening, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 364-373.
  • Hallett, S, Hoagland, L, Toner, E, Gradziel, TM, Mitchell, CA & Whipkey, AL 2016, ‘Urban agriculture: Environmental, economic, and social perspectives’, Horticultural Reviews, vol. 44, pp. 65-120.
  • Hamilton, AJ, Burry, K, Mok, HF, Barker, SF, Grove, JR & Williamson, VG 2014, ‘Give peas a chance? Urban agriculture in developing countries. A review’, Agronomy for sustainable development, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 45-73.
  • Herrera Sorzano, A 2009, ‘Impacto de la agricultura urbana en Cuba’ [Impact of urban agriculture in Cuba], Novedades en Población [News in Population], vol. 5, no. 9, pp. 1-14.
  • Koont, S 2009, ‘The urban agriculture of Havana’, Monthly Review, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 63-72.
  • Koont, S 2011, Sustainable urban agriculture in Cuba, University Press of Florida, Gianesville.
  • Leitgeb, F, Schneider, S & Vogl, CR 2016, ‘Increasing food sovereignty with urban agriculture in Cuba’, Agriculture and human values, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 415-426.
  • Mougeot, LJ 2000, Urban agriculture: Definition, presence, potentials and risks, and policy challenges. Cities feeding people series report 31, IDRC, Ottawa.
  • Murphy, C 1999, Cultivating Havana: urban agriculture and food security in the years of crisis. Development Report No12. Institute for Food and Development Policy, Oakland CA.
  • Nelson, E, Scott, S, Cukier, J & Galán, ÁL 2009, ‘Institutionalizing agroecology: successes and challenges in Cuba’, Agriculture and Human Values, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 233-243.
  • Novo, MG & Murphy, C 2000, ‘Urban agriculture in the city of Havana: A popular response to a crisis’ in Growing cities, growing food. Urban agriculture on the policy agenda, eds. N Bakker, M Dubbeling, S Gündel, U Sabel-Koshella & H de Zeeuw, ZEL, Feldafing, pp. 329-346.
  • Orsini, F, Kahane, R, Nono-Womdim, R & Gianquinto, G 2013, ‘Urban agriculture in the developing world: a review’, Agronomy for sustainable development, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 695-720.
  • Premat, A 2005, ‘Moving between the plan and the ground: shifting perspectives on urban agriculture in Havana, Cuba’ in Agropolis, ed. LJA Mougeot, IDRC, London, Sterling VA, Ottawa, pp. 171-204.
  • Premat, A 2009, ‘State power, private plots and the greening of Havana’s urban agriculture movement’, City & Society, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 28-57.
  • Smit, J & Nasr, J 1992, ‘Urban agriculture for sustainable cities: using wastes and idle land and water bodies as resources’, Environment and urbanization, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 141-152.
  • Smit, J, Nasr, J & Ratta, A 2001, Urban agriculture: food, jobs and sustainable cities, 2nd ed, New York, USA.
  • Sroka, W 2014, ‘Definicje oraz formy miejskiej agrokultury – przyczynek do dyskusji’ [Definitions and forms of urban agriculture – a contribution to the discussion], Wieś i Rolnictwo [Countryside and Agriculture], vol. 164, no. 3, pp. 85-103.
  • Taylor, JR & Lovell, ST 2012, ‘Mapping public and private spaces of urban agriculture in Chicago through the analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 108, no. 1, pp. 57-70.
  • Tweedale, G & McCulloch, J 2004, ‘Chrysophiles versus chrysophobes: the white asbestos controversy, 1950s– 2004’, Isis, vol. 95, no. 2, pp. 239-259.
  • UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Activities) 2007, State of the World’s Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth. United Nations Population Fund, New York. Available from: <> [8 June 2019].
  • Van Veenhuizen, R 2014, Cities farming for the future: Urban agriculture for green and productive cities, IDRC, Silang, Ottawa.
  • Viljoen, A & Howe, J 2005, ‘Cuba: laboratory for urban agriculture’ in CPULs. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities, ed. A Viljoen, Elsevier, Oxford, pp. 146-191.
  • Wright, J 2012, Sustainable agriculture and food security in an era of oil scarcity: lessons from Cuba. Routledge.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.