2008-12 Cuba Organoponico Santa Katerina

Brief resume from Santa Clara organoponico
You see organoponicas of different sizes in cities villages and towns, throughout Cuba.


Common features are shaded areas for summer vegetable production; raised beds are often common; compost making/vermiclture. At the Santa Clara organopinico we also saw home-made coloured insect traps made from painted metal sheet covered with engine grease, trap crops (maize/sorghum) or companion plants such as marigolds/roselle. These tend to be at the end of rows – it seems surprising that there are so few trap crop/beneficial insect plants.


The organoponico at St Clara was created on poor land – over the years compost from the raised beds has built up in the walk ways between the raised beds.


Other items observed included limestone for making fresh raised beds/sugar cane residues and green waste for compost/fruit trees around the edge – including Noni at one site as a medical/drink to reduce risk of cancer and lower cholesterol.


Bio-control plants around the periphery — notably neem.

There was a shop on the edge of the organoponico selling produce to the local communities.


Very typically there were references to Che Guevara and the list of vegetables had a message of good wishes to Fidel and Raoul Castro

Other related outlets — notably the butchers selling pork and chicken. People from related industrial units and the army come and help at the weekend and there are signs in the beds about this.

50% of production has to be mixed cropping (for example tomatoes and pak choi or radishes and aubergines). They were growing water cress as a winter salad and also Talinum fruticosum as“spinach” – it is rooted from cuttings – the soil is pretty exhausted after growing this crop.


Main crops are Okra, Cuban spinach, parsley, beetroot, lettuce, pak choi, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, Chinese chives. 10 kg/m² compost applied after each crop. Biological controls used extensively.

Seedlings were produced organically Cuban style – pragmatically — a slug and snail treatment had been used at the earliest stage of growth to reduce to the seedlings.

Seed crops such as lettuce and tomatoes are sown densely in raised nursery beds and then transplanted to final production beds.


I got the impression that scientific back up in terms of crop inspection was carried out on a regular basis. Folded paper planting and harvest information was contained in plastic roll on deodorant containers on sticks at the end of the rows.


This organoponico did not grow legumes in its rotation – apparently there was another one nearby that did. In this case there was another large organoponico across the road and two others nearby.


Rabbit were produced on site in a structure that would have had new thatch added to the roof added after a hurricane.

©  Andrew Ormerod 2013


About cornucopiaalchemy

Dr. Andrew Ormerod has 14 years experience working as the Economic Botanist at the Eden Project - researching topical stories, artefacts, ethnobotanical inks, catering and retail links to exhibits. Previously I was involved with plant breeding and plant tissue culture working on a range of crops including winter cauliflowers, agricultural lupins, vining peas, wheat and barley and coconuts. I am now freelance and am interested in opportunities for lecturing; writing articles; consultancy linked to development of botanic gardens for crops based exhibits; supply chain work for unusual food or non-food crops with interesting stories about plants and people attached to them.
This entry was posted in Cuba, Food and Nutrition, Food Resilience, Health, Latin America, Sustainable production, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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