Arca Tierra: agriculture to preserve the ecosystem

Fuente: Arca Tierra

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The Chinampas are an ancient agricultural system of an articulated set of floating artificial islands built by the Aztecs. The system uses the water from the canals to irrigate crops. They were recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1987. The Chinampa zone of Mexico City is located in the south of the city, in an area known as the Patrimonial Zone of Xochimilco, Tlahuac and Milpa Alta. This area has 406 kilometers of watercourses.

The Chinampa Zone has great importance for the city. It is an ecosystem asset of the city and an agricultural pole that provides 40 thousand tons of production per year for the city’s consumption, and employs 12 thousand people, generating an estimated flow of 245 million Mexican pesos (12 million dollars).

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, there are 20,922 identified Chinampas, representing an area of 2,215 hectares. 17,336 (82.8%) of these Chinampas are in a state of abandonment. The urban expansion exposes the Chinampas to the risk of housing, which generates degradation of the ecosystem and risk the traditions and culture in the heritage area.

The diagram shows the general problems in the area identified by the challenge organizers (inner circle). Arca Tierra, the challenge-winning initiative, identified specific problems to face with its operation (outer circle).

Arca Tierra is a business initiative in Xochimilco that produces and markets organic food and promotes gastronomic tourism. The food production model benefits the farmers and peasants who grow the products, and its ecological agriculture model benefits the environment and the consumers.

The initiative has more than 10 years of operation. During this time, it has experimented with cultivation techniques, opened markets, developed logistics chains, established alliances with universities, carried out trainings, experimented with renewable energies and built a civil association.

This experience has led to the establishment of long-term bonds of trust and work with farmers and that facilitated the implementation of this solution.

Arca Tierra an environmental, productive and cultural contribution to preserve the Chinampera Zone. In this way, it contributes to the Resilience Strategy of Mexico City in it Axis “Promote water resilience as a new paradigm for water management in the Mexico basin”; Axis “Planning for urban and territorial resilience”; and Axis “Develop innovation and adaptive capacity”.

“Most of the new people arriving in Xochimilco are migrants from other rural settings. The idea is to teach them about sustainable agriculture and other topics in a 9-month program. It would even be an advantage to have residences for the people to live there while they are in training.”

Lucio Usobiaga, Founder of Arca Tierra

Arca Tierra Impacts

Arca Tierra: agriculture to preserve the ecosystem