One of our final excursions in Cuba was an overnight stay in La Picadora, a cooperative farming community. Here, people lived very traditionally with a lack of modern technology that would ease their heavy workload. We were also told about the lack of labor due to the youth moving away from the countryside, and this was evident as the majority of the farmworkers were older men and women. The president of the cooperative was very grateful that our group was visiting his community and that we were all interested in the agricultural field. He explained how agrotourism is very beneficial to them not only because it is profitable, but also because it was motivating to see that the youth had a desire to learn about agriculture.
During this visit, we also learned a lot about how the climate affects the growth of crops. Before we arrived, the Picadora community was experiencing a long drought period that had negatively impacted their farms. However, the hurricane season finally began once we were there, and the farmers were ecstatic to see the rain. Despite the weather, we were able to tour several farms and meet a few members of the cooperative. Some of the crops that these individuals produce include sweet potatoes, beans, coffee, and sugar cane. Throughout our stay in La Picadora, we were served many delicious meals- all containing fresh ingredients directly from these farms.
Not only were we given a very warm welcome to this community, but we were also allowed to participate in some of the farm activities. We cut over 500 sweet potato plants so that they could be replanted to produce more food. We also sorted and cleaned beans and rice that were later prepared for dinner. Lastly, the cooperative members were eager to share their favorite forms of entertainment with us. We played dominoes and card games throughout the day, and later in the night, we were surprised with a live music performance and impromptu dance lessons from the locals. It was great to see another part of Cuba and learn about their unique culture!