Just got back from new and enthralling experience in my life from new part of world that exist without contemporary technology, where personal emotion transcend the value of capital own by the individual and where public transit is most preferred means of transportation. Thanks Centennial College for giving me such an amazing opportunity to work on project based on permaculture /urban farming in CUBA. My 2 weeks service learning experience was remarkable and every day over there add to my new experience in life.
First time in my life I felt like “Culture Shock” before that just heard of those adjective but never experienced such shock, but was able to overcome in couple days. My journey started from Toronto, then we flew to Varadero (Resort town of CUBA) by early morning flight. First day started on lazy note fighting with sleep and was trying to assimilate with Cuban weather from 15 to 40 deg. After having quick lunch, everyone started feeling like family away from home for 10 days. The main project was embarked after lunch when we all started discussing about project work, project major milestones, what can be the constraint and what methodology can be used to become more effective.
For first couple of days, we were just visiting numerous farms so that we can get taste how permaculture works, how government promote farming than any other profession. We went to see OMAR farm widespread across 40 acre of land which includes fruit and vegetable farming and animal husbandry. Other day we went to our project site in Matanzas and on our way we met junior high school kids as we were supposed to work with then on project site so that they can also enhance knowledge about permaculture.
It was the different atmosphere to live, different air to breathe, different food to eat and felt like we are more surrounded by nature. This feeling was wonderful that for moment you can dig deep into it and stay there forever. Belong to agricultural business profession, I was not aware of so many thing that Cuban people knew like working of water sprinkler based on gravity, reusing every other thing for daily purpose. This shows their love and affection towards environment though they are not environmentalist by profession but they have better understanding how to maintain ecological balance and about ecosystem.
The most incredible experience on my trip was understanding and visualizing countless way of manufacturing compost and using it as fertilizer. The solid waste from human, animals can be used be transformed into organic fertilizer which in turn can be fed to fruit or vegetable tree and product from tree can be consumed by both human and animals. This complete the food chain cycle. I was so fascinated to visualize this in practical mode.
Our couple of days spent in Havana were also breathtaking. Visited one site where local farmers were using land for cultivating different fruits and teaching techniques to how increase the fertility of soil. Then we went to meet local who profession was Car washer with used water. This is also included in the principle of Permaculture. We also became part of MAY DAY (Labor Day) Parade representing Centennial College and Canada. Apart from us there were troops from South America, turkey, Russia and Caribbean countries. It was good experience to become part of such big event and met Cuban people.
Remaining last 5 day we were more focused on our project. Our main target was finish heavy work as much as possible and make life easier for farmers working over there. We helped them clearing big landmass of weeds with Machete knife, constructing wall, filling the cemented pits with animal waste so that it can gradually become effective manure with mixing worm compost to it and helped transferring the brick on first floor to complete further construction.
To recapitulate, Cuban people are best known for their friendly and caring nature. This was demonstrated by people who were around us, they hospitable, generous loving and caring. The food provided by Center (residence) was fantastic. Every day I use to thank people working in center for their “Comida Fantastica”. Last but not least I want to say big thanks to Centennial College and Staff for providing us with best shelter to sleep, best food to eat, best place to learn and for giving us ample time to enjoy one of the best beaches.