Goldman Environmental Awards!

Hello Everyone.  It’s been quite a while since the last CitySown post, so let me get you updated.  In the past two weeks I’ve: started working for Planting Justice doing permaculture design and implementation, been to New York City and back, watched a fruiting banana plant in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, picked up some oca and mashua roots, planted a few dozen trees, ordered 12 bee hives, sold 60 pounds of honey…. Spring time is definitely here.  And it’s about to thunderstorm in Oakland.  Crazy.

I was fortunate to attend the Goldman Environmental Awards at the San Fransisco Opera House this evening.  The Goldman Foundation selects six incredible grass roots environmental heroes to honor each year from each of the six habitable continents.  Watching the planet earth style short video segments that introduce the awards ceremony, I found myself in an odd critical state of mind.  Why spend all this money on a ceremony.  Why all the pomp and circumstance.  Why the big show….  Then when the show actually started I was absolutely blown away…  mostly by one individual.

Humberto Ríos Labrada

Humberto Ríos Labrada has worked tirelessly in Cuba to diversify crop usage.  A graduate student while the Soviet Block was disintegrating, he recognized that indigenous farming knowledge could be promulgated and enhanced to counter growing trends in sugar cane monocropping.  After the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba partitioned small blocks of land to farming collectives.  Labrada pioneered “seed fairs” or seed swaps to encourage farmers to share knowledge and diversify their seed usage.  It’s working.  50,000 farmers are now involved in Labrada’s agricultural biodiversity work.  Check out this video for more information on this inspiring human being.

Labrada gave a passionate speech, with my favorite quote of the night: “Agriculture…. is art.”  I think it’s important to remember that designing productive spaces is a creative art form, not a rigid calculation.  Thanks Labrada.  Congrats.

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4 Comments

Filed under Field Trips, Permaculture, Projects, Resources

4 responses to “Goldman Environmental Awards!

  1. This post makes me want to jump up and dance! Art is meaningful pattern, and what could be more meaningful than growing food??? Here’s an interesting blog post from Civil Eats about Cuban food resilience and the obstacles we face in achieving that stateside: http://civileats.com/2010/04/21/the-exceptional-nature-of-cuban-urban-agriculture/

  2. My sister lives where you garden (and keep bees… wow 12 new ones!) Exciting to see someone other than me talking about oca, too. Thanks so much for sharing about Humberto Ríos Labrada’s inspirational work and message. I’d never heard of him.

  3. Bonnie

    Humberto’s, and those that work along side him are accomplishing great things. The organic crops look delicious, and the sharing of seeds and cross breeding to create healthier plants will hopefully prove to be even more successful than initially expected. I hope that more will follow his example, and the citizens of Cuba, and many other countries will reap the rewards.

  4. talia

    Wiguy,

    you came to new york?! Sascha just got back from India and wants to learn how to plant an urban garden and I’m now showing her your website because i just think it (and you) are so amazing!

    naomi just found the mother-load of worms in her worm box and is all excited to feed them.

    Pick up your phone and we’ll talk!

    -talia

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