The day started slightly cooler and with less humidity which was a refreshing change. However, this didn’t stop the mosquitoes and ants biting like crazy which was really annoying and meant that my legs and feet in particular were an absolute mess. Horrible!
The first seminar of the day was a session on water management. Although a lot of what was talked about in the session was not directly transferable to the UK it was fascinating to hear the different ways that Cubans make use of water in their urban growing settings.
Cuba is not like the UK with lots and lots of rain so the food producers have got the use of water in growing down to an absolute science – not a drop of it can be wasted. It is especially important to point out that growers are not allowed to take any water from the domestic water system so every bit of water that is used on each site has to be collected during the rainy season and carefully conserved throughout the dry season. In addition to this in all urban agriculture settings careful consideration is made regarding the level of humidity within the soil. In each setting soil is analysed to work out what capacity it has to absorb and retain water. Particular consideration is made of this in relation to the potential limit of productive capacity that each soil also has.
In terms of watering plants, detailed information has been drawn together to consider the exact amount of water that is needed to cultivate each different plant and this is carefully considered when deciding how much irrigation is necessary on each different site.
After eating lunch we had a brilliant session looking at the theories and methodologies of creating designs based upon, and in respect of naturally occurring systems.
In order to do this there are a number of different things that need to be considered within the design:
- The management of soil, water and other resources.
- That management happens as close to production as possible.
- That full consideration needs to be made of the aspect of each site in order to make best use of each different site.
- Recognition of the potential benefits that sustainable management may offer within an economic context.
- Where ever possible you should conserve the structure and function of naturally occurring ecosystems.
- You can only manage things within your own limits.
- You can only every use management techniques that are appropriate within your own context.
- It is essential to recognize the variability in scale and effect that may characterize any natural process.
- Recognise the inevitability of change.
- Find a balance between the conservation and use of biological diversity.
- Make use of all the different information that is available to you in order to conserve your own eco-system.
- The focus of your work should take into consideration all parts of local society as well as all the different scientific aspects of cultivation.