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Breakfast
Raúl preparing his breakfast.
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Juan Collecting Lirio
Lirio is a water lily that's actually an invasive species. Chinamperos compost it.
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Martín Collecting Mud
Mud is dredged up from the canals using a large net. It's dumped into the bottom of the canoe, then poured into a shallow rectangle. After it dries, the mud's cut into small squares called chapines and seeds are place in them.
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Juan Planting Seeds
Juan's placing seeds into the chapines. The seeds will sprout in a few days and when big enough, the seedlings will be transferred to the chinampa.
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Preparing The Chinampa
Two chinamperos are preparing the soil for planting.
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Raúl Planting
Raúl is a jornalero--a day worker.
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Canoa
This was the first time I stepped into a canoe. I was happy it was much more stable than I'd imagined and the ride was extremely short--just one side of a canal to the other.
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Daniél Walking Through His Chinampa
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Martín
Martín is moving plants that will be placed in a nearby chinampa.
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Erick Watering
Water is pumped from a nearby canal and then sprayed on seedlings.
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María Victoria Harvesting Epazote
María Victoria is one of a handful of women--chinamperas--who farm.
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Erick, Jr. Carrying Lettuce
During the harvest, produce is piled in plastic crates and then carried a short distance to the street where it's put on trucks to be driven to local markets.
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Juan and Spinach
Juan and his brother Erick have been farming the chinampería their whole lives. The land was first farmed by their great-grandfather.
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Cilantro
Cilantro is one of the most important herbs used in Mexican cooking.
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Portrait of a Chinampero
Unfortunately, I never did get this man's name.
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Martín
Martín is one of the first chinamperos I met.
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Jorge and Butterfly
This butterfly landed on Jorge's finger as he stopped for a rest.
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Angelica
Angelica harvested some radishes and when I asked her to pose, she obliged.
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Axolote
The chinampería used to teem with axolotes, which are considered to be a sacred animal. Now they're critically endangered. Leonardo, a chinampero, raises them on his land and releases them into the adjacent canals.
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Prehispanic Figures
Chinamperos often find prehispanic figures and pottery when they dig on their land. These figures are probably 800-1,000 years old. There's a Neolithic site in another part of the chinampería that's 4,000 years old.

La Chinampería

The chinampería is an ancient agricultural site in San Gregorio Atlapulco and three other pueblos in Xochimilco. The chinampería consists of plots of land, called chinampas, that were built on a shallow lake. They're formed by making a rectangle (usually 10'x100') using the branches of the huejote tree (a species of willow) and then filling it with mud and vegetation.

The land is still cultivated and produces a large portion of the produce for Mexico City. It's estimated that the chinampería in San Gregorio is between 1,200 and 2,000 years old. Archeologists have found evidence of chinampas dating back between 5,000 and 6,000 years.