Title:  Hortalizas Colectivas (Collective Gardens)

Grade Level: 7-12

Subject(s): Spanish, Social Studies,Environmental Studies


Many EZLN communities have become more self-sufficient by creating community gardens.  The handbook included in this lesson is the product of indigenous farming communities in Chiapas, designed to spread the word about how to establish such gardens.


The purpose of this activity is to expose students to the food sources and livelihoods of Mayan communities in Southern Mexico.  Students will also have the opportunity to learn from these farmers by translating gardening instructions into English, possibly for use in their own gardening projects.



  1. Download the Hortalizas Colectivas manual.
  2. Refer to Information page for background on Mayan community gardens.

Activities and Procedures:

  1. Students translate one section of the handbook into English, complete with drawings.
  2. Students then present to the class a mini-lesson on their section - if it is possible to actually garden, students should do so, explaining the procedure in Spanish.
  3. Remind students that the majority of indigenous Maya do not speak Spanish - often, in order to be used, manuals such as this one will be translated over again into the indigenous languages: Tzol, Tzoztil, Tzeltal.

Tying It Together:

Discuss:  Considering what you know about globalization and its effects on Southern Mexico, why are community gardens so important? Why do you think some of the barriers to organizing them would be?