Finca Marta Story

$10,850 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 53 people in 24 months
Created July 22, 2017
• For twenty years I've been involved in ecological agriculture. After many years involved with studies and academies, me and my family decided to start farming. There we have experienced the most inspiring and rewarding stages in our lives and we want to share them.
• Finca Marta story represents the commitment to transform the Cuban countryside, and beyond that the hope for an ecological, socially equitable and healthy worldwide food system.
• We want to inspire people while telling stories about Finca Marta, not advising them what they should do. We aim that reading the book could be entertaining, allowing reflection on many important facts connected to agriculture.
• Many visitors coming to Cuba want to have fresh information on its agriculture. Finca Marta's book will connect them to many of the challenges and Cuba's present situation as well as historical information on Cuba's agricultural system.
• Our involvement with agrotourism and culinary tours has raised much interest about the story of Finca Marta, and plenty of requests on the recipes of the meals we offer.
• Overall, we want to communicate Finca Marta's message to the present and next generations to come with hope of a better future for Cuba.
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Actualización huracán Irma/ Hurricane Irma update
(English below)
Queridos amigos de Finca Marta:
Hemos tenido varios destrozos en la finca, pero ninguno irreparable. Perdimos miles de posturas que estaban ya para sembrar, las mallas de sombreo cayeron todas al piso y tuvimos que retirarlas, el techo del invernadero rústico se rompió casi todo, se cayeron muchos árboles y ramas. No tuvimos problemas con las abejas, ni con los animales, y sí fue necesario recoger del piso como más de 2 mil aguacates que hemos regalado en la ciudad, hemos vendido a restaurantes y le hemos dado a las vacas. La casa no sufrió ningún daño y tampoco el resto de la infraestructura, así que de una forma u otra nos “escapamos” de lo peor. Ya hoy podemos decir que estamos casi recuperados y que las pérdidas que tuvimos no nos dañan mucho. También ya comenzamos desde el martes a vender y eso reinicia la posibilidad de ingresos. Varias de estas características son las de un sistema agrícola resiliente… claro, el ciclón pasó a más de 200 km de nosotros!
Nosotros continuamos con el objetivo de compartir la historia de Finca Marta en forma de libro. Hemos publicado un capítulo de ejemplo –“La metáfora del pozo”—tanto en español como en inglés en nuestra página de gofudme. Espero que lo disfrutes!

Dear friends of Finca Marta,
We've had a lot of damage at the farm from Hurricane Irma, but none of it irreparable. We lost thousands of seedlings that were ready to be planted, the mesh on the shade house fell to the ground and had to be removed, the roof of the rustic greenhouse was almost completely destroyed, many trees and branches fell. We didn't have any problems with the bees or with the animals, but we did have to pick up more than 2000 avocados from the ground that we have given away in town, sold to restaurants, and fed to the cows. The house didn't suffer any damage and neither did the rest of the infrastructure, so in one way or another we "escaped" the worst. Already today we can say that we have almost recovered and that the losses we had won't hurt us too much. Also, we've started selling again and this renews our revenue potential. Many of these characteristics are those of a resilient agricultural system...of course, the hurricane did hit more than 200 km away from us!
We continue working towards our goal of sharing the story of Finca Marta in book form. We have posted a sample chapter--'The metaphor of the well'/ 'La metáfora del pozo'-- in both english and Spanish on our gofundme page . Please visit and enjoy
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The metaphor of the well
When we arrived here at this place that we named Finca Marta there was no running water, so somehow we had to solve this problem. Many people who have lived in the area a long time don’t have a well, some have tried to dig one repeatedly without success, and others haven’t succeeded because they haven’t even tried. For us it was clear that we needed a reliable source of water; it was the fastest way to reach prosperity. It’s impossible to build a productive and harmonious life without water, because all of the other processes we’ve put in place depend on this liquid.
On January 5, 2012 I went searching for a well-digger. That day I met a man who not only would help me dig a well, but also would reinforce my purest feelings of respect and appreciation for the Cuban campesino. Plainly and without hesitating he told me: “My blood, it’s as good as done, tomorrow morning I’ll be at the farm to get started.” The next day I celebrated my birthday digging the well with Juan Machado. It was a strenuous day of work, and at the end, after advancing less than a meter, we had reached solid rock.

We dug the well by hand with picks, sticks, sledgehammers, crowbars…and a lot of will. We tried to get a drilling machine, but the operator backed out, arguing that the area was too rocky and the equipment could break. We also tried to arrange for a jackhammer, but we couldn’t find one and even so, it would have required a long hydraulic hose because by that point we had advanced further. We even considered using explosives, but those could make cracks that would keep us from continuing and there was also the risk of collapse.
Machadito, as all of us call him, never doubted that we would achieve our goal by hand and that we would find enough water. And I trusted him. The work was truly hard and the conditions were precarious; however, for him nothing is impossible. I did have reservations, and on occasion thought of quitting. Sometimes I felt frustrated and exhausted, but he arrived each morning with a contagious optimism.

The neighbors also arrived. Machadito left for his house telling everyone that he was digging the most difficult well of his life…and people came to see it. That’s how I met many people and was able to speak to them about our goals and dreams. One doubter said that he would drink all the water that the well could give and others guaranteed that the project was pure folly, that in those hills of rock we would never find water.
Various people helped us dig, some contributed more than others, but in one way or another all of them gave up. Getting them to follow through with a long-term commitment was more difficult than the task itself. Maybe it’s utopian to expect people to expose themselves to the risk of failure and the sacrifice that a collective dream requires.

These were tense moments. For one, we had the extreme work in the well, while at the same time we needed to begin the fencing and start producing something that would provide us with income. The demands of each day kept us from resting. We had few resources, financing was scarce, but even so we continued forward. In seven months we had dug 14 meters in the rock, and we reached water!

While we were digging a metaphor emerged—both for ecological agriculture and for life as a whole—that showed us a variety of things:

--We are willing to put forth extraordinary effort when convinced of our goals. “We could have kept digging and arrived in China”, Machadito would tell me, but that wasn’t necessary. In the middle of the dry season we were able to pump water without draining the well dry, and it was then that we decided to stop digging.
The process is as important as the goal. For us the goal was to find water, but by breaking rock we gained much more. The well was the means to understand the social, cultural, ecological, and economic dynamic of the area. It was our connection to the land and the people. While we dug we reflected on dilemmas of life, family, animal husbandry…we spoke about agriculture, the curative properties of plants, about the weather and local natural resources. Digging the well was my training and debut as a campesino.

--The commitment to continue working for the sake of a sustainable agriculture. It was a test of love, passion, and surrender for this cause. Though it seemed like stubbornness or nonsense to have been digging by hand without a guarantee of finding sufficient water, today we see that it was worth the effort.

--The necessary connection between the old, scarce, and rough with the modern and sophisticated; between traditional agriculture and scientific knowledge, together with the application of new technologies. Shortly after digging the well we were able to install a solar powered pumping system that automated extraction and distribution of water to the whole farm.

This is the metaphor of the well. Everyday we see it at work in the farm and in our lives. If we were able to dig the well, nothing will be impossible for us. In one way or another we all need to “dig our own well” to understand better how life works.

©Fernando Funes-Monzote 2017
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$10,850 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 53 people in 24 months
Created July 22, 2017
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