Roland Ebel of the Sustainable Food Systems Program at Montana State University conducted a research project to determine the extent to which an ancient Aztec agricultural technique could benefit 21st century horticultural needs. Specifically, Ebel examined the use of “chinampas” with the hope of discovering their modern utility. A chinampa is a raised field on a small artificial island on a freshwater lake (usually surrounded by canals and ditches), where vegetables can be produced year round. The irrigation needs of chinampas is low and the productivity extremely high. Chinampas provide fresh produce for a megacity such as Mexico City and are conceivable around many of today’s exploding urban areas. Ebel’s findings are illustrated in the article “Chinampas: An Urban Farming Model of the Aztecs and a Potential Solution for Modern Megalopolis,” found open access in the online journal HortTechnology . The chinampa system, commonly called floating gardens, is still practiced in certain suburban areas in Xochimilco, in the southern valley of Mexico City. These raised fields are constructed by digging the canals and mounding the displaced earth onto platforms. Similar historic raised field systems can be found in South America, Asia, Oceania, and parts of Africa. In a chinampa, […]

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