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Imagine being able to grow fresh food and vegetables year round rather than just for 4 months !”…so say the parishioners of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Itabo, Cuba

You can be part of our exciting Easter Season diocesan initiative to fund raise to build a rustic greenhouse so that the parishioners of St. Mary’s can grow fresh food year round for themselves and the most needy in their community in a land where fresh nutritious food is in very limited supplyso say members of the PWRDF Diocesan Unit .  

The Primates World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) continues its focus this year on Food Security programs with the goal of providing funds to partner organizations to help empower them in their objectives to advance nutritious food production in their communities with the hope of obtaining better health and greater food security for all. The Episcopal Diocese of Cuba and its Integrated Development Program (IDP) is one of two partner organizations supported by PWRDF in Cuba. Central to the PWRDF Food Security Initiative is the Food Exchange whereby during the summer at Sorrento Centre partners from overseas participate in week long food exchange courses, sharing information on their programs while learning about food production at the Sorrento Farm and from others involved in food production elsewhere in Canada. In return, delegations from Canada visit the partners’ communities to learn of their food production. Bishop Griselda, Episcopal Bishop of Cuba, was a guest and a presenter at Sorrento in 2014.

In March 2015, Tessa Dudley, PWRDF Youth Council member, and Peter Goodwin, PWRDF Diocesan Representative and Chair of the Diocesan Unit, were members of the PWRDF Food Security Delegation to Cuba. Tessa and Peter passed on greetings from our diocese to Bishop Griselda in a letter written by Bishop Skelton. Delegates were guests of the diocese and the parish of St .Mary the Virgin where they spent two nights. Delegates heard from Bishop Griselda how as a priest in the early 1990’s she began rebuilding the church at a time of extreme scarcity following the withdrawal of the Russians and their resources. This was part of a vision that included greening of the land and providing for basic food needs of parishioners and the most vulnerable in the surrounding community. To quote Bishop Griselda “a congregation should go out from the church and reach the community, to share and live the Gospel.” Besides the production of food, the program has evolved into what it is today which includes a range of support for the most needy and education to promote positive personal relationships between men and women. Upon becoming bishop six years ago Bishop Griselda began replicating the Itabo programs at other parishes throughout Cuba with the newly created IDP program which PWRDF supports.

Bishop Griselda indicated to delegates that the primary ‘wish-list’ item she and her fellow parishioners have is to build a greenhouse to facilitate year round fresh food production and take their objectives of attaining greater food security to the next level. The experience gained in building a greenhouse in Itabo could then be replicated in other parishes and communities.

As a follow up to the delegation’s visit and the expressed wish for building a greenhouse, the PWRDF diocesan unit with the support of Bishop Melissa Skelton is fund raising to provide for the costs of building a rustic greenhouse. Costs are approximately $8,000 CAD (based on the early March currency exchange rate for $5500 USD). If funds in excess of those required for the greenhouse are collected they will be applied to other related needs identified by Bishop Griselda.

Project information and objectives as outlined in the proposal submitted by Bishop Griselda and the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba include :

  • THE PURPOSE : To build a rustic greenhouse to produce and consume some agricultural products year round. The Itambverde Project, located at Saint Mary the  Virgin Church, seeks to increase the production levels of vegetables, fruits, flowers and other agricultural products for benefit of vulnerable groups of the town. To reach the purpose, the project team, with the participation of clergy and lay people in Itabo, wants to work with a rustic greenhouse.
  • WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE PEOPLE IN CUBA: To strengthen the food security of excluded and vulnerable sectors (the disabled, the elders, alcoholics and women ), improving their quality of life. To increase church’s sustainability through stewardship, project management , and exploration of the possibilities that Cuba’s new economic model has to offer.
  • INVOLVEMENT: People of the ecclesiastic congregation ; especially women, young people and the elders.Planned beneficiaries : 130 people ( Direct : 25, Indirect 105 ).
  1. Workshop on working with greenhouses - $1,000USD
  2. Advisory to local process - $1,000USD
  3. Acquisition of equipment module and construction : Inputs and production materials, irrigation system - 3,500USD

Further information on the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba is available at


Peter Goodwin would welcome the opportunity to visit your parish during the Easter Season and talk more about the PWRDF delegation’s visit to Cuba, the two PWRDF partner organizations supported in Cuba, and building of the rustic greenhouse.

For further information you may reach Peter at 604-929-6143 or by email at


  1. St Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, Itabo, Cuba
  2. Tessa Dudley and Peter Goodwin bring greetings from Bishop Skelton to Bishop Griselda, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba
  3. Land behind church where greenhouse will be built
  4. A Farewell from parishioners  

Photos courtesy of Peter Goodwin