Who We Are

Who We Are

A Forest Gardener is…

someone who cultivates a diverse forest garden to:

takes care of forest plants, insects, and animals

promotes the forest’s biodiversity

provides for their families

There is no typical forest gardener as they have varying specialties like medicinal plants. The possibilities are endless, but the essential idea remains: humans can inhabit and manage the forest while promoting growth, prosperity, and diversity.

Shaping the Maya Forest as a Garden

We often think of the rainforest as untouched by humans. In reality, the Maya forest can be understood as the garden of the ancient Maya. They have evolved their agriculture practices over four millennia to create sustainable forest gardens to provide for their needs for food, fiber, medicine, and construction while enriching the forest.

4,000+

years of cultivating the landscape

90%

of the plants are useful to humans

370+

different plants in 19 forest gardens

The Maya still use the same land management traditions today that mimic the forest structure, prevent soil degradation, and increase yields without compromising the health of the ecosystems.

Our Race Against Time

Highest Deforestation Rates

Regardless of being one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, about 80% of its original habitat has been cleared or severely modified with the expansion of industrial agriculture. 

This development of modern monocrop agriculture threatens this resource that meets the agricultural needs of the growing population and overwhelms traditional farming practices worldwide.

Decreasing Indigenous Science

Of the 8 million Maya living in the greater Yucutan Peninsula area today, less than 5% practice traditional forest gardening. 

Losing this knowledge means losing a proven model of agricultural sustainability that could save the natural resources of Mesoamerican forests, provide essential foods to thousands, and forest cover that conserves water and lowers the temperature.

Misconceptions Like…

“The Maya exhausted their environment to the point that it led to the decline of their civilization

“The Maya are extinct”

“The Maya suffered a huge population collapse at the end of the Classic Period”

Meet Us

We have developed friendships with many forest gardeners local to the Belize and Guatemala area. With their unique specialties and expertise, every one of them is a treasure who recognizes the importance of sustainable agriculture.