Art and Culture, Caribbean, Education, Environment & Sustainability, Food and Agriculture, Reality Tours Blog

The Alamar Organopónico: Cuban Charisma and Creativity at Work

The following blog post is written by Reality Tours intern Lissa Goldstein, who visited the Alamar Organoponico.

Wondering what sort of people and places you might encounter on a visit to Cuba?  The UBPC (Unidad Básica de Producción Cooperativa or Basic Cooperative Production Unit) Vivero Alamar is one of the places where you will see Cuban charisma and creativity at work.  Located in the eastern part of Havana, it is the largest farm cooperative in the city.  The farm was started by Miguel Salcines in 1997 on a small plot of land that would allow him and his family to fend for themselves in a period of instability and uncertainty.  Today, it has grown to 11 hectares (about 22 acres) and has over 160 members.  The median age of the members is in the 50s which, as Salcines likes to say, makes for a very wise staff.

Alamar Organopónico, Havana, Cuba - Photo by Bryan Weiner

Alamar Organopónico, Havana, Cuba – Photo by Bryan Weiner

Lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, and carrots and other vegetables provide much of the farm’s income.  They sell ornamental plants and fruit trees, worm compost produced on the farm, and value-added farm products such as spices and pickles.  The cooperative uses innovative organic farming methods and is a model for what sustainable medium-scale production can look like.  The farm’s social structure is innovative too, particularly when compared to most farms in North America.  As a cooperative, 30% of the farm’s income goes back into the farm expenditures and the rest is divided among the members according to seniority, in addition to a monthly wage.  Some of the job perks include two meals a day, a monthly haircut or manicure, and flexible scheduling.

Salcines talking with a recent RT group.

Salcines talking with a recent RT group.


Salcines, his wife, and their daughter, Isis, are at the center of the operation.   Upon meeting them, it’s easy to see why this cooperative has been so successful.  They are smart, funny, charismatic, and have a great deal of valuable information to offer visitors to the farm. After walking all around the farm and hearing the stories and insights of the members of the cooperative, visitors can sit down to what is easily one of the best meals in Cuba. Fresh organic ingredients, a plethora of vegetables and salads (which can often be a luxury in Cuba) and fantastic traditional recipes are served in an outdoor, covered dining area right next to the gardens.

So even if you’re not a farmer or food activist, this is the type of place where a visit is bound to be enlightening, inspiring and delicious!

Global Exchange is proud to announce a partnership with NEEM (Natural Ecological Environmental Management). Learn more about NEEM sustainability tours to Cuba.


  1. Kirsten Moller

    What a great blog! Its so impressive what can be done with that very wise staff, some good soil and some great worms!

  2. Becca

    Thanks so much to Lissa for this post! It makes my mouth water for delicious veggies…

  3. Bonnie

    It is wonderful, I visited in 2008 on a Reality Tour, and it was fantastic. And delicious!

  4. Lili B.

    Hello, really nice article. could you give me Mr Salcines’ e-mails dress or other contacts please? thank you in advance, have a nice day!

  5. Chloé


    I’m a student in Agronomia and I would like to go 6 months in Cuba to learn Agroecological way of producing.
    I don’t sucess to contact this cooperative, can you send me their contact please in my e-mail adress?
    Thank you a lot for yor help


  6. Brian Rogers

    Hi–This place looks amazing! I’m going to Cuba on my own in the fall and I’m interested visiting and possibly doing some volunteer work at this farm. Do you know any way to contact them (I couldn’t find anything online…) thanks!

  7. anisa

    Hi, I have been looking for a way to reach Vivero Alamar. Would you have an email or any contact info? Thanks

  8. I am writing to you in hopes that we will be able to meet and work together in the near future. We are a couple from the United States who founded our own nonprofit & website World Pilgrimage™, and in December 2015 will be bringing our project to Cuba. Through our organization, we travel to countries (primarily in South and Central America) documenting volunteer organizations and featuring them on our online database and videoblog. Our goal is to raise funding for already existing organizations, and help bring publicity to centers or farms that are just starting out. I (Kaela) am a Communications major w/ a minor in Spanish and my partner (Dan) is a skilled videographer. We have experience working on organic farms and working with international volunteer organizations in Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
    We are interested in coming and working with UBPC Vivero Organopónico Alamar between January 2016 – March 2016. Ideally, we would like to be involved in hands-on volunteer work on the farm as well as filming various aspects of the farm and featuring your organization on our video blog. We really look forward to meeting you and working to further promote the vision that you are already creating. Can you please provide us with better contact information about how to reach others on the farm? Thank you.

  9. Erika


    Thank you for this post Lissa! I would like to join some sort of volunteer scheme at UBPC Vivero Organopónico Alamar in Cuba next January 2016.
    I cannot find how I can get in touch with them! Would you be able to help me out with this?

    Thanks so much!