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 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.