One of the projects Go Eat Give supports through international volunteerism is an organic community farm in Cuba. A few miles outside of Havana, a large public housing project was created for people who could not afford to live in the city. In 1997, four agronomist Cubans started an organic urban farm, Vivero Alamar as a way to feed the community and generate employment. Now Vivero Alamar has over 25 acres and employs over 160 people.
The farm has been able to make a huge impact in the lives of Cubans. Up until recently, Cuban diet consisted of rice, beans and meat, but thanks to the produce of Vivero Alamar and other such farms in the area, the locals are now eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Under the direction of Isis Salcines, Vivero Alamar started an outreach program with local schools. Here, children learn to grow vegetables, get a basic understanding of where their food comes from, and discover what makes a healthy diet. By teaching the next generation about organic and sustainable food production, Isis and the staff at Vivero Alamar are ensuring that their methods and philosophy will continue, no matter what happens in Cuba.
Secondly, Vivero Alamar is an innovative cooperative, where all employees share in the profits of what they produce and sell. The employees live, work and participate in Alamar so that they have better working conditions and higher wages than an average Cuban.
The market at the entrance of Vivero Alamar sells produce like cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, green onions, carrots, tomatillos, peppers, beets and bok choy; Cuban staples like rice and black beans; peanuts, sprouts and sunflower seeds; and some prepared foods like tomato puree, mango or guava jam, and sauerkraut. Customers can pick up fresh produce daily and meet the farmers too.
During our volunteer vacation in Cuba, we spend a day at the farm learning about sustainable organic farming in Cuba, helping out with their projects, giving them donations and enjoying a delicious lunch prepared using all farm grown ingredients! Isis Salcines said, “Go Eat Give is the only organization who has come to Alamar to work alongside the farmers and make them feel important!”
Go Eat Give volunteers took donations of clothes and office supplies for the farm and its workers. Simple items such as paper clips and pens are very expensive and sometimes even hard to find in Cuba, so our offerings were much appreciated!