Discovering the Heart of Xochimilco: Our Journey to Regenerate a Timeless Treasure

Nestled in the vibrant southern part of Mexico City, Xochimilco is renowned for its expansive canal system and iconic chinampas, or floating gardens. This UNESCO World Heritage site, steeped in pre-Hispanic agricultural traditions, stands as a living testament to Mexico’s rich cultural and ecological heritage. On June 3, 2024, our team embarked on an enlightening visit to this remarkable area, aiming to blend modern regenerative practices with age-old wisdom.

Author: Laura Soto
Leia em português

As we navigated the intricate waterways of Xochimilco, we were immersed in a landscape that pulses with history and life. The chinampas, recognized by the FAO as agricultural heritage of humanity, are more than just floating gardens; they are a symbol of sustainable farming practices that have supported the region for centuries. Despite modern challenges, these plots of land continue to be a beacon of biodiversity and traditional farming.

Challenges in a Modern World

However, Xochimilco is not without its struggles. The bustling metropolis of Mexico City has encroached upon this once-isolated sanctuary, bringing with it pollution and the pressures of urbanization. The contamination of canal waters poses a significant threat to the delicate ecosystem, making the task of maintaining and restoring the chinampas even more daunting. Moreover, while Apis bees are common in the area, the melipona bee, native to other regions, has yet to find its place here.

A Vision for Regeneration

Our mission in Xochimilco is clear: to foster a collaborative effort with local and indigenous communities to promote regenerative agriculture and beekeeping practices. By leveraging the traditional chinampa system, we aim to enhance biodiversity and support the preservation of local ecosystems. Establishing meliponaries within this unique environment will serve as a living example of the benefits of native bee cultivation and its critical role in maintaining ecological balance.

During our visit, we had the privilege of engaging with nine local leaders from diverse backgrounds, including apiculturists, chinampa owners, farmers, and the revered Abuelita Amalia. Abuelita Amalia, a renowned indigenous leader, artisan, traditional healer, and activist for the defense of land, corn, and water, has been globally recognized for her contributions to preserving ancestral practices for over 40 years. Currently 88 years old, she continues to be a pivotal figure in the community, advocating for the preservation of herbal medicine and traditional medicinal plants. Her wisdom and dedication to the land are a source of inspiration for our regenerative efforts.

Cultivating a Sustainable Future

Despite the current abandonment of many chinampas—only 2% are actively cultivated—the potential for regeneration is immense. Our goal is to revitalize these floating gardens through sustainable agriculture and water sanitation practices. By introducing meliponiculture alongside traditional farming, we can create a synergistic approach to pollination and crop cultivation, enhancing the overall health of the ecosystem.

Our next steps involve creating a joint project. This initiative will not only focus on ecological restoration but also on cultural exchange. By disseminating the ancestral wisdom of local leaders—covering everything from medicinal plants to traditional storytelling—we hope to inspire new generations and ensure the longevity of Xochimilco’s rich heritage. We are committed to building reliable alliances and a collaborative project that brings together the strengths and knowledge of all stakeholders.

Xochimilco is more than just a picturesque landscape; it is a vital part of Mexico’s ecological and cultural identity. As we work towards its regeneration, we are reminded of the words of Abuelita Amalia: “If we lose Xochimilco, we will lose the capital, and thus the country.” Our commitment is to create sustainable development projects that honor this sacred land, ensuring it remains a thriving sanctuary for future generations.

Join us on this exciting journey as we work hand in hand with the people of Xochimilco to cultivate a brighter, more sustainable future. Together, we can preserve the beauty and bounty of this extraordinary region, safeguarding its legacy for years to come.

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