Planting Seeds

In December of 2012 Green Cities Fund sponsored a visit to Havana by a delegation of organic food experts and chefs trained at Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse Restaurant. The purpose of the trip, whose planning took almost a year, was to initiate a dialogue between Cuban and U.S. advocates of sustainable, organic agriculture, with the goal of improving the Cuban diet through local food production and permaculture, and to advance independent worker cooperatives under the new economic policies of the Cuban Government. For the first time the owners and chefs of the paladares (private restaurants) in the Havana area sat down and discussed how they might better work together with themselves, with communities and with the government, which still imports 70% of the food Cubans eat. The challenges faced are reflected in an interview with one of the Chez Panisse chefs, Cuban-American Danielle Alvarez.  Plans are now under way for the development of an independent teaching facility, in cooperation with the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation, an independent Cuban NGO, to promote the ideals of good diet, permaculture and sustainability.  The institution will include an outreach program to schools and institutions throughout Cuba. With the help of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, State Senator Loni Hancock and former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham, Green Cities Fund has now been granted a license to legally transfer funds to Cuba to acquire and improve a teaching facility and commence an ongoing “Planting Seeds” program.  Funders are now being approached, and inquiries welcomed.