Mayan Forest Gardens

A forest garden is an unplowed, tree-dominated agricultural field that is cultivated year-round. The Maya Forest Gardens are an example of an ancient mode of production, and they are biodiversity hot-spots. The Zapatistas are among its guardians.

"The forest garden produces and prefigures all the solutions we need, ecologically and politically: it produces high quality food, regenerates woodlands, prevents erosion, increases soil fertility, preserves and propagates biodiversity, cleans and efficiently manages water, generates no waste, uses no fossil fuels, no artificial pesticides or fertilizers, and sequesters carbon in the soil." Quincy Saul

# Legal Status and Location?

- Southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize - bioregional


Entering a Forest Garden in Belize. source

# When did it start?

Ca 8000 years ago, Ford and Nigh (2015) chronicle a calendar which stretches back eight millennia. By then population densities were greater than those existing today in the region and

"the dominant mode of production was the milpa forest garden.” (ibid, 124)

# How do they work?

add a short description about the project's work, strategies, practices etc.

# Finances and Partnerships

describe and add links to innovativ models or to partners


# 1. Which Core Dimensions of Commoning are enacted?

add a short description, then name the ones you've identified out of the list of our 8 dimensions that are met and another list with those that are irrelevant and/or not met; if not sure, you can add an asterix to the dimension you've doubts about

How the Mayan forest gardeners meet the following dimensions Situated Knowing, Care-Honoring. Entangled With Nature is well expressed in the following quote:

“Considering fire as destructive misses the mastery of its use where fire breaks are well established and burning is careful and strategic, taking into account conditions of wind, temperature, and time of day. Historically built around an ecological relationship with the environment, Maya croplands…replicate in miniature the tropical forest. Cropping is a tightly woven fabric, where the planting of trees and shrubs and leaving of choice trees make up the reforestation process. IN fact, the pejorative word “primitive” belittles the elegant simplicity of the small-scale, basic technologies that are transportable, flexible, and tailored to the forest.” (Ford, Nigh, The Maya Forest Garden, pg. 18)

"The important thing to understand is that we are part of nature, not something separate,” our Tsotsil teacher explained." (Quincy Saul, 2016)

# 2. How does Provisioning through commons occur?

A key concept of production in a forest garden is polycultivation.

A forest garden ist almost entirely maintained with local resources - compost, dead weeds, ashes from kitchen fires, and manure. They enrich the soil and productivity of the land without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. The traditional Maya land management system is known as the milpa-forest garden cycle.

Forest Gardens provide almost everything local inhabitants need for a decent but dignified living: food, shelter, healthcare, energy, clean air, regeneration of water supplies. (see below: Realms of Commoning)

The Milpa Production Cicle. source

# 2.a Use Convivial Tools Single out which kind of tools are used and tag them with: Constituting Tools and/or Knowledge Creation and/or Socializing Tools and/or Infrastructures and/or Finance and/or Laws

# 3. Self-Governance in the Commons # 3.a Governing Internal Relations Forest gardens rely on shared traditional knowledge of local farming household, so to Share Knowledge Often and Widely is part if it's DNA.

Proceed the same way selecting from the following dimensions

# 4. Inner Kernel

- Aspirational goals: if possible quote - Relational categories: name them - Metaphors: if possible quote - Epistemology: - Rationality: coin it according to the preestablished list of rationality-types


Bookcover. source

# Sources

# Additional Notes

Indigenous Agroecologies html

Anabel Ford and Ronald Nigh (2015): Maya Forest Garden: Eight Millennia of Sustainable Cultivation of the Tropical Woodlands (Left Coast Press). Mesoamerican Research Centre html

The Pilar Forest Garden Network html