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Human Ecology

, 37:705 | Cite as

Cuban Home Gardens and Their Role in Social–Ecological Resilience

  • Christine Buchmann
Article

Abstract

Cuba’s political and economic isolation in today’s globalised world demands constant adaptation by its inhabitants. The Cubans’ capacity to adapt increases their ability to cope with change and to reshape local ecological and social systems, creating a more resilient system. Worldwide, home gardens are a community’s most adaptable and accessible land resource and are an important component in reducing vulnerability and ensuring food security. The role of Cuban home gardens in relation to political change and economic crisis was investigated in Trinidad de Cuba using standard ethnobotanical research methods. Major events, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent economic crisis as well as frequently changing Cuban policies on agriculture, food security, religious freedom and healthcare, have had an impact on household decision-making, influencing home garden composition and management. Social networking surrounding home garden produce plays an essential part in the continuous adaptation to change, aiming to increase a diversity of resources and strategies, hence resilience.

Keywords

Cuba Resilience Home gardens Socio-ecological systems Adaptation Social networks Economic crisis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Research was funded by the Ernest-Thornton-Smith Travelling Scholarship awarded through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. This research would not have been possible without the generous support of the homegarden owners in Trinidad de Cuba. I would like to thank Dr. Rajindra K. Puri (Kent University, UK) and Prof. Patricia Howard (Wageningen University, The Netherlands) for scientific support during research. I thank Prof. Christian Vogl (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria) and Rebecka Milestadt (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden) for comments on previous versions of this article. I am also grateful to two anonymous referees for helpful reviews.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Organic Farming, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Working Group: Knowledge Systems and InnovationsUniversity of Natural Resources and Applied Life SciencesViennaAustria

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