How Cuba Leads the World in Permaculture: Part 1

Cuban Food Crisis after the Soviet Union Collapsed

Nina Serrano Interviews Roberto Perez about Permaculture in Cuba, Part 1

Roberto Perez

Roberto Perez


Roberto Perez is a pioneer of the permaculture movement in Cuba where a food production revolution occurred starting in 1993, four years after the 1989 collapse of the USSR and the socialist block. In the interview, Perez describes the hunger crisis that followed the loss of Cuba’s main trading partners and food resource. The US embargo was tightened during these critical times that Cuba termed the “Special Period” when hunger plagued the island. The US cut off all food imports and punished ships from other nations that dared to dock in Cuban ports with cargo for Cuba. The collapse of the Soviet Union and eastern block cut off oil supplies to the island which lost 70% of oil imports compared to previous years. Cubans turned to sustainable agriculture without the use of petro chemical fertilizers and pesticides which were no longer available.  Hunger propelled Cuba to adopt permaculture approaches to urban and rural agriculture.  It is a fascinating story of dealing with peak oil, something the whole world now faces. Perez is featured in a film called The Power of the Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

I was excited about the possibility of interviewing visiting Cuban permaculture expert Roberto Perez, who was only available on Saturday when KPFA had no engineers on duty. What to do? My husband Paul Richards, who has successfully initiated several permaculture projects in our backyard, set up a recording studio by his computer in our house with a new microphone. He hung blankets on two projection screens to create a make-shift sound booth. We were ready to record . The information-packed interview is presented in two parts. You can hear Part 1 on this post.

La Raza Chronicles will broadcast Part 2 this Tuesday, September 3rd, at 7 PM, Pacific Time.  You can also hear it online on KPFA Archives.  Next week, we will publish Part 2 on a second post here on An Art Activist Blog,  Part 2 includes information about the 11th International Permaculture Convergence in Cuba in November, 2013, and Perez’s work with the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity.  He also will let you know how U.S. citizens can legally travel to Cuba to attend this world convergence of permaculture experts, become a certified permaculturist and tour permaculture sites throughout the island.

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About Nina Serrano

Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to or contact her publisher at For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.


How Cuba Leads the World in Permaculture: Part 1 — 2 Comments

  1. Absolutely superb film! I’ll try to catch Part 2 on Tuesday. Thank you and Richard.
    Best, Florence

  2. Absolutely superb film. I’ll try to catch Part 2 on Tuesday. Many thanks to you and Richard. Best, Florence

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