The chinampas are small islands of marshy land very rich for cultivation, created by indigenous, that are supposedly able to provide all the Mexican population with just 10% of the land.
Felipe Capultica complexion is almost as black as the land of the chinampa in which he grew up and which continues to work with the ancestral culture system and a few practice in Xochimilco.
The chinampas, wherein when he was a boy working whole families, grandfather to grandson, cousin and nephew, are small islands of marshy land so rich for cultivation, they say, only to work 10 percent of the chinamperos (farmers) occupying this region southwest of Mexico City, the whole country would be supplied. The origins date back over 2000 years, in times of the Toltecs.
Xochimilco, along the river with its islands-farm, is one of the great lungs of the great capital. Its plot cultivate six members of his family; children and only part-time. "One of them is in a school and the other is a nurse. When I was a kid we had to be always here. Now it is very different because we are very few, new generations do not want to follow and the children come and go ".
Ricardo Rodriguez left his job in the world of finance to bet, with his ex-wife, biologist, by the recovery of some land and a production system that says, "has immense potential and need support to come to light and remain attractive for young people to want to continue on farms ".
He confesses that he was not easy to find complicity with chinamperos, as they are called farmers working in the islands, which arrive every day from Xochimilco. "They are feisty and tough people, they were once warriors who fought on the front line and it is not easy to get into their world. I, finally I succeeded. "
Capultica chinampa explains that each is different, that according to his disposition, size and orientation some are much more appreciated than others. Which runs in his family, since time immemorial, still working grandparents, parents and, sometimes, children. "Although we are less than long ago living conditions have improved."
The chinamperos have hard skin, dark complexion and often look older than they have, explains Ricardo. "They are a warlike people, very long-lived people and unwelcoming entrance me who was not easy to earn my trust."
Now there are thirty producers working to cultivate pesticide-free foods, growing at a rate much higher than traditional crops. The reason is the fertility of sludge extracted from the river, with forming small pieces conglomerate in planting the seeds on the soil of the chinampas.
Ricardo Rodriguez organizes some walks along the river, bordering the small islands that are the farms. They are gentle routes, mostly foreigners, aboard one of the trajineras or barge with a large central table, which served a breakfast of tamales, guacamole, salad, cheese, tamarind water and coffee pot. "All are products of the chinampas. Taste and see what flavor. "
His argument, the added value of the ingredients are organic, it has been refuted. The river has been criticized, is so saturated that there is a great fish contamination. "We have made bacteriological tests and the grade is 0.02 percent of bacteria".
Nearly a decade ago began to lay the foundation for your project, chinampa, through which help producers to market their food (radishes, lettuce, parsley, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, pumpkin, to a lesser extent carrot , onion and some hot peppers), of which seven crops a year are obtained. "Of the chinampas of Cuemanco (with 2500 hectares of arable land, of which nothing but a small part works), leaving between 10,000 and 20,000 daily lettuces, purslane two tons and 23 tons of annual broccoli".
Next year will start exporting the products they produce and that currently sold through shopping baskets to local consumers through an initiative named "De la chinampa to the table" and accessed through its Web page.
It is a private organization, with five partners, he founded. Rodriguez summarized in seven points their objectives: creating a fair selling price payment that deserves an organic and tasty as that obtained product; encourage the production and collectively for each chinampero may have an opportunity to grow; educate the consumer in buying organic, inculcate respect for the environment to farmers themselves, who sometimes are not aware that they themselves are part of the system and must help to preserve it; provide financial and technological support to farmers. Respect for cultural identity and a mediating role with management to defend them.