Talk:Milpa agriculture

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 Definition A form of swidden agriculture that is practiced in Mesoamerica. Traditionally, a "milpa" plot is planted with maize, beans, and squash. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Agriculture and Anthropology [Categories OK]
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A little help?

I know that the basic milpa system is followed throughout Mesoamerica but could someone confirm for me whether the word "milpa" is used everywhere? Also, I know that corn was domesticated in Mesoamerica but does anyone know whether beans were domesticated at the same time? Basically, how deep do the milpa's roots go and how far do they reach? Thanks in advance for any help you can give. --Joe Quick (Talk) 19:35, 1 August 2007 (CDT)

I'm no expert in this, but I've observed Mam-speakers of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, but was not there long enough to learn the term they used for their agricultural practices--actually, I vaguely remember that they simply used milpa to refer not to the practices but to simply the family corn field, which did often have squashes, beans, and other plants intermingled. I have some great photos I might be able to dig out and dust off, by the way. But what I think is lacking from the article is, what is exactly Milpa agriculture up against other forms of indigenous swidden agricultures? Is it primarily the term applied to the field? The types of food plants planted? Is there associated unique meanings and rituals? Etc? Assume your reader knows nothing, of course. This might be interesting.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 02:24, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
Thanks Steve. I did a little checking and it seems that the word "milpa" is used by anthropologists, etc. throughout the region. The locals definitely use the word all over Guatemala (even in Huehue :-)) but I'm not sure if it is used in Guerrero, for example.
Good point about what distinguishes it from other forms of swidden. It's mainly just the combination of foods, the "Mesoamerican trio." I'll work this in closer to the top of the article. There are special rituals but they vary greatly by area, so it would be impossible to point to one that distinguishes milpas from swidden plots elsewhere. I the area near Huehue and Xela, the ceremonies that are performed over the course of a growing season mirror the important ceremonies of a human's life. This will all be covered in the "ritual life" section.
Photos would be great. Especially if you have something that clearly shows the beans clinging to the corn stalks or the squash growing between the rows. I would also like to include a nice landscape, if you have one. Something like Image:Guatemala_landscape.JPG but clearer and without the highway. I've been trying to find photos from north of the Maya region but haven't had any luck yet. (I really love the harvesting shot, BTW.)
--Joe Quick (Talk) 14:01, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
The harvesting shot is great. I'm still pinching myself that we get to use photos regardless of the type of open content license. It's really the only way to access the types of materials necessary to produce a high quality product, I think.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 20:00, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

A little more help?

  • The section on the "ritual life of the milpa" is now, finally, written. But it could use some work. It gives only very cursory coverage to an extremely large and complex subject. This is something that I will probably get back to eventually but I would really appreciate any help that anyone can provide. --Joe Quick 15:17, 21 October 2007 (CDT)
  • The image gallery needs work as well. Ideally, we should have images of every stage of the ritual and agricultural cycles that are associated with the milpa.
    • Preparing the field.
    • Planting ceremonies
    • Planting
    • Green corn ceremonies
    • Harvesting
  • Maybe even some shots of how the corn is used later
    • Storage
    • Soaking with lime
    • Grinding
    • Food items, especially tortillas and tamales

--Joe Quick 21:35, 22 October 2007 (CDT)

'nother photo that should be useful somewhere