This engaging video explains how ancient Mayan farmers cultivated forest gardens, a practice that continues to influence the way that modern Mayan farmers grow crops today.
Students will learn that this sustainable farming method prevents erosion and requires no plowing, pesticides, or fertilizers.
In a world where "new" is often synonymous with "better," this video will challenge students to see the value of learning ancient and traditional methods.
The video includes engaging footage from the forests of Belize and Mexico to sustain student interest.
Students should be familiar with the terms archeologist, agriculture, monoculture, biodiversity, erosion, sustainable, and mechanized.
Teachers may wish to pause at 3:08 so that students can read the definition of the word milpa.
An advertisement pop-up might appear at the bottom of the video.
Art or science classes could make visual representations of a milpa. Students could choose to draw, make a collage, or make three-dimensional models to explain how the 14-year cycle works.
Earth science and biology classes could compare and contrast the Maya Milpa Cycle with industrialized Western farming practices, particularly how they differ in their effects on water quality, biodiversity, and land use changes.
Other resources on this topic include this lesson plan on farming and the climate, this video about regenerative agriculture, and this articleabout how forests absorb carbon.
Monoculture and mechanized, industrial agriculture has been both beneficial and harmful to humans. This video showcases Mayan forest agriculture and explains how it is much more sustainable than current modern practices. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Science and Engineering
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
5-LS2-1 Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
HS-LS2-3 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
Geography 2: Students understand geographic aspects of unity and diversity in various regions of the United States and the world by describing features on the daily life of various cultures in the United States and the world.
Geography 1 (F2): Students understand the geography of the United States and various regions of the world and the effect of geographic influences on decisions about the present and future by evaluating and developing a well-supported position about the impact of change on the physical and cultural environment.