As an undergraduate at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture, I had been taught that the prime agricultural problem of the United States was the disposal of the farm surplus. But as a farmer in a poor region of Puerto Rico, I saw the signifi cance of agri-culture for people’s lives. That experience introduced me to the realities of poverty as it undermines health, shortens lives, closes options, and stultifi es personal growth, and to the specifi c forms that sexism takes among the rural poor. Direct labor organizing on the coffee plantations was combined with study. Rosario and I wrote the agrarian program of the Puerto Rican Communist Party, in which we combined rather amateurish economic and social analysis with some fi rst insights into ecological production methods, diversifi ca-tion, conservation, and cooperatives.I fi rst went to Cuba in 1964 to help develop their population genetics and get a look at the Cuban revolution. Over the years I became involved in the ongoing Cuban struggle for ecological agriculture and an ecological pathway of economic development that was just, egalitarian, and sustainable. Progressivist thinking, so powerful in the socialist tradi-tion, expected that developing countries had to catch up with advanced countries along the single pathway of modernization. It dismissed critics of the high-tech pathway of industrial agriculture as “idealists,” urban sentimentalists nostalgic for a bucolic rural golden age that never really existed. But there was another view: that each society creates its own ways of relating to the rest of nature, its own pattern of land use, its own appro-priate technology, its own criteria of effi ciency. This discussion raged in Cuba in the seventies, and by the eighties the ecological model had basically won, although imple-mentation was still a long process. The Special Period, that time of economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union when the materials for high tech became unavailable, allowed ecologists by conviction to recruit the ecologists by necessity. This was possible only because the ecologists by conviction had prepared the way.