To help transition Japan to a peace promoting post-carbon country while enjoying every step of the process.
僕のビジョンは、祖国日本で、平和文化を育みポストカーボン(Post-Carbon) 社会を促進してゆく事です。

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chinampa! チナンパ!

There is nothing like jumping into a cool marsh on a sunny day after sitting for 2 weeks getting your brain stuff with an abundance of information. This is the annual chinampa fest during the Permaculture Design Course where we all become chinamperos and create regenerative islands that explode with biological activity. When I was younger, I used to dream of creating my own island and building a home on it. And now here I am on a permaculture paradise where we continuously build new islands of abundance.

So, whats a chinampa?
Lets start with a quote from Toby Hemenway's book, Gaia's Garden: "The [Bullocks] brothers build garden beds that extended into the marsh, copying an idea from the ancient Aztecs. They had created peninsulas by piling straw and branches that reached out like fingers from the shoreline, covered them with rich bog muck, and planted these self-watering garden beds, called chinampas, with food and wildlife plants."



I'm not quite sure what defines a chinampa, but I've read quite a few definitions stating that they are essentially constructed agricultural fields or islands on a body of freshwater (e.g. lake), originating in Xochimilco, Mexico with credit given to the Aztecs. They are by design sub-irrigated, highly productive, and benefit from a microclimate that increases frost protection. "The word chinampa comes from the Nauhatle words chinamitl (reed basket) and pan (upon), a good description of their building methods (Werner 1992)" (*).より
焼畑によるトウモロコシ栽培だけでは、都市の人口を養いきれなくなり、その生産 方法を常畑による持続ある農業生産に切り替えるため、メキシコシティー他、多くの浅い湖で行われた農法です。


基本的 に、施肥は行わず、地力が落ちると、湖の底にある土を運ぶという行為を絶えず行い、持続する農法で、現在は、花卉類や野菜を生産しているんです。


"To build the chinampas, plots about 30m by 2.5m were staked out on the lake bed. A fence was woven between the stakes, and the area would be filled in with mud and vegetation. The next rectangle would be parallel to this one, with room for a canal in between, where canoes could pass through. These canals of course offered irrigation, and provided food of their own such as fish and water fowl. Often willows would be planted along the edge of the plot, to provide further stable fencing as well as shade (though they would be carefully pruned to allow enough sunlight into the farm plot).

In the end, the garden plot would be no more than a few feet above the level of the lake. They were supported with the Aztec's complex irrigation and waterway systems, which included dams, aqueducts and gates. "


Back to the Permaculture Design Course........
We started by watching an old VHS on chimapas (culture and history). Then we assembled our tools and marched gloriously into the leech-free marsh.....what leeches?

Fearless kids and adults entering the marsh from a developed
chinampa peninsula.

The work begins!

The spirited permies collect pond muck by cutting chunks of the marsh floor with shovels and pile them on to boats to transport onto a nearby young chinampa island. Some collect the muck directly on their tool handles.

Industry, the future of modern permaculture.
Those on the island distribute the pond muck to increase land mass.
Perennial plantings help hold the chinampa together and accelerate the evolution of organismic activity.

Spy shot of the notorious chinampero-killah Don Samuel. Chinampa waters can be dangerous as there are kama-wielding thugs that chinamperos must defend against.

The battle begins.
Dave and Michael to the right hurl mud-splattering muck balls as the island chinamperos organize their defense.

A half-assed pond muck chuck. This is the way mainland, island, and aquatic chinamperos resolve their differences. There is no discrimination in the world of chinamperos. Women, children, and all creatures are encouraged to work on chinampas and become targets of the great splattering.

More to come.....

-(*): Pacific Lutheran University ( (
-Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway (2nd Ed., 2009)
-The top two illustrations are from the internet and I think at least the first one is from the book Chinampas: Their Role in Aztec Empire - Building and Expansion


Take a Virtual field trip into the original chinampas in Mexico,

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