Restoring the agricultural and ethno-botanical heritage of Tetzcotzinco
Just outside of Mexico City, the ancient archeological site of Tetzcotzinco was once a cultural center known for its terraced botanical gardens, production of medicinal herbs, artistic performances, sacred rituals, and teachings. This site is believed to be the first botanical garden in the world. These once productive terraces surrounding Tezcotzinco have long been abandoned. This project aims to bring back the traditional Mexican agricultural and ethno-botanical heritage to Tetzcotzinco and the surrounding area. By working with local medicine people, the knowledge and plants of ancient Mexico can be promoted and preserved. These efforts will be implemented in three phases:
Phase I – Sacred Mountain Retreat
The 2.5 acre property will be developed using permaculture design principles as a model to demonstrate the kind of restoration and production possible for rest of the mountain surrounding the Tetzcotzinco archeological site. Food forests based on permaculture principles will be created to reinstate the Ethno-Botanical garden that used to exist on this mountain during the times of Nezahualcóyotl. The program will focus on the protection, propagation, understanding and education about the use of traditional ancient Mexican medicinal plants.
Through the restoration of this property, an intentional community for long term residential recovery with ongoing monthly and weekly retreats is created. The retreat offers spaces for Mayan Calendar based events and lunar, solstice, or equinox celebrations or gatherings. The center will house 5 permanent members of the intentional community and will have space for another 20 guests on rotation.
Phase II – Restoration of Tetzcotzinco Botanical Gardens
This phase will expand the medicinal plant preservation and propagation project started at Sacred Mountain into the adjacent hills that surround the Tetzcotzinco archeological site.
The idea of this phase is to restore the hill to the original productive garden from the era of King Nezahualcóyotl. Some think of Tetzcotzinco as the world’s first botanical garden, established in the mid-fifteenth century. Paul Aviles, in his article Seven Ways of Looking at a Mountain, considers the site to have “seven different but overlapping uses: sensual gratification, sacred rituals, agricultural production, political symbolism, artistic performance, and the construction of a site-specific earthwork.” These principals, as well as the local and traditional knowledge, combined with permaculture techniques will be considered in the restoration of the hill gardens.
Phase III – Restoration of Agricultural Terraces Surrounding Tetzcozinco
Building on the work done on Phase I and II, Phase III will expand the restoration of the hills surrounding Tetzcotzinco into productive gardens of edible and medicinal plants. The team will collaborate with the adjacent land owners to restore the already designated nature protected area surrounding the archeological site. This nature protected area encompasses about 8,700 hectares within five villages.
This is an ambitious project which will require collaboration, not only with the land owners, but also the municipal governments and several federal government agencies to get permits and funding. Another major task will be to reconfigure and reconstruct the ancient water ways that gather water from Mt. Tlaloc to provide irrigation to the site.
History of Tetzcotzinco
The whole hill of Tetzcotzinco was converted by man into a sacred place for Tláloc, the god of rain. The archeological zone contains ceremonial pools, massive aqueducts, baths carved out rock, evidence of waterfalls, hill top gardens, remnants of sculptures and shrines and plants from all over Mexico.
Some of the most sophisticated hydraulic systems in the world were the creations of Nezahualcóyotl, who governed until his death in 1473. He is considered one of the great designers and architects of the pre-Hispanic era.
Tetzcotzinco is considered the first botanical garden in the world and was also the site of the first Wisdom School (aka Council of Music) on the American continent.
Nezahualcóyotl, also known as the Philosopher King of the Americas built his retreat palace and gardens on the sacred land of the Tetzcotzinco mountain with botanical gardens, waterfalls, flowers, and ancient meditation temples in the 1430’s.
Location: San Nicolás Tlaminca, Mexico
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