Margarita Fernandez, Vermont Caribbean Institute and University of Vermont

Margarita Fernandez has over 15 years of experience working on agroecology, livelihoods, food sovereignty, and biodiversity conservation initiatives in urban and rural landscapes of Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Laos, and the US. She recently became the executive director of a small non-profit, the Vermont Caribbean Institute, where she leads the organization’s work in Cuba. She holds a PhD in agroecology from the University of Vermont, where she worked with coffee communities in Chiapas, Mexico and northern Nicaragua. She holds a Masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she studied urban agriculture in Havana, Cuba and New York City, and a BS from Tufts University.



Subsistence under the Canopy: Agroecology’s Contributions to Food and Nutrition Security amongst Coffee Communitites of Mesoamerica

One of the most pressing challenges facing the world today is how to sustainably feed a growing population while conserving the ecosystem services that we depend on. Increasingly, global governance structures, academics, non-governmental organizations, and farmer associations recognize that agroecology must play a central role in a transition towards a more sustainable global agrifood system, one that will both maintain healthy ecosystems and ensure food and nutrition security for a growing population. This presentation outlines the evolving conceptualization of agroecology as a science, movement, and practice with emphasis on its contributions to food and nutrition security, presenting case studies from Mesoamerica that demonstrate how agroecology in practice contributes to conservation of biodiversity, improved dietary diversity, and overall livelihood resilience.