The eyes of the milpa
Eugenio Tisselli <cubo23@...
2013-05-14 16:13:55 GMT
Here is a tiny step towards gathering the collective of humans and non-humans...
"The eyes of the milpa"
Families from Santa Mar?a Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca (Mexico) use mobile phones to create an online
community memory about everything that grows in their fields.?
Los ojos de la milpa (The eyes of the milpa*) is a community memory that captures, through images and voice
recordings, a moment of transition in these complex times. It all takes place somewhere in the mountains
of the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico, in a community where the elders tell stories to the youth about how
maize was planted many years ago: without fertilizers or sophisticated technology. The young ones
listen as they witness how maize can no longer grow without chemical fertilizers, nor survive without
synthetic pesticides. This is a place where the precious pace of the passing seasons coexists with a
growing pressure to produce more, to extract from the earth not only nourishment, but also more and more profit.?
But there are newcomers in the milpa: in the community of Santa Mar?a Tlahuitoltepec Mixe, Oaxaca, peach
trees have recently made their appearance. This is thanks to the MIAF system (Milpa Intercropped with
Fruit Trees), an agroforestry management proposal developed by researchers from the Postgraduate
College of Agronomy at Chapingo, Mexico. In addition to traditional crops such as maize, beans and
squash, the MIAF system introduces fruit trees in the milpa to satisfy a number of needs. By forming a live
barrier, they help to protect the soil from erosion caused by runoffs, a major problem in Tlahuitoltepec,
where arable land is mostly found on hillsides. The trees contribute to carbon sequestration, an
important strategy in the context of climate change. Finally, they also strengthen the
livelihoods of farmers and their families who eat or sell the fruits, in this case peaches. However, new
knowledge, skills and technologies come together with these
benefits, involving a tough learning process, an increase in the amount of required labor, and the danger
of a greater dependency on external inputs.?