When we sail along the Chinampa areas and think about the countless generations that built them, we have great respect for the territory. We are not resigned to become the last generation to watch and enjoy their ecological, community and cultural wealth.
We are an initiative organized by inhabitants of San Gregorio Atlapulco and other parts of the Valley of Mexico. We are united by the affinity and friendship, as well as the willingness to collectively participate in the preservation, restoration and agro-ecological use of the area.
We carry out collective works or chinampa agricultural tequios at Oztocingo, in San Gregorio Atlapulco. The first workdays for the cleaning and opening of the channels happened at the end of 2017, after the earthquake of September 19. The subsequent months, during the first half of 2018, we organized a second round of tequios, where we assumed the challenge of rehabilitating a chinampa in a collective manner. The third stage aims to combine work in the collective chinampa with the cleaning of channels, for the benefit of the entire area.
While many socio-cultural and environmental problems in the area are prior to the quake, they were heightened in light of the event. Some examples include the expansion of the urban sprawl, excessive extraction of water that is sent to the city, the loss of biodiversity, pollution, vulnerability before liberal markets, and social fragmentation. As a result of the earthquake, the chinampas suffered subsidence, channels were blocked with landslides and the water level fell dramatically—apparently due to the dewatering of the underground rivers and the cracks that opened. The subsequent months, the mishandling of the rubble in the city resulted in another ecological disaster, as communal stormwater recharge areas and productive land were badly affected with the clandestine dumping of rubble. Finally, hundreds of families face economic and coexistence problems due to the loss of their homes.
The ecological destruction of the area is part of the spoils that daily impact on the lives of all the people of San Gregorio and throughout Mexico City. Living in this megacity implies, among other things, separating the everyday life from the earth and nature—from the possibility of planting food—while the lacustrine and cultural territory is increasingly more hidden or only used for touristic and commercial purposes. By constantly working among native people from the area and people from other areas, we learn, share, carry out food self-cultivation practices and strengthen our cooperative ties. For this reason, we believe that we are building solidarity based on the interdependence and reciprocity, going beyond the emergency.
The chinampas’ environmental, historical and cultural heritage could not have been built or preserved if it were not for community work. That is why, in addition to its agro-ecological character, we care about the self-managed, educational and convivial nature of the activities we organize.