The Maya Forest Garden
Despite encroaching industrial farming, Maya "forest gardeners" practice centuries-old techniques. These methods help researchers understand how the ancient Maya were able to feed a large population over 1,500 years. And, they offer a paradigm of for future conservation of the forest and sustainable agriculture.
The practice is called "milpa," a 20-year cycle of forest to garden plot to forest (learn more about the milpa cycle).
At El Pilar forest gardeners in the community maintain a demonstration garden amid the archaeological treasures through the the El Pilar Forest Garden Network.
The core enterprise of the forest gardeners, however, is on their own land. Collectively, they manage and cultivate more than 1,000 acres with over 370 different plants, including all the dominant species of the Maya forest.