With modern industry and environmental destruction encroaching on the Maya Forest, we must engage the youth in caring for natural biodiversity and sustainability. It is essential for the elder generation of Master Forest Gardeners to pass on their lessons and practices. The children at the Santa Falimia Primary School in Santa Familia, Belize are given the incredible opportunity to interact with and learn from these cultural heroes of the Maya forest. Känan K’aax, the school’s model forest garden, allows children of the community to learn about their heritage while learning valuable skills and forming bonds with the teachers and tenders of Forest Gardens.
Our school project is designed to expose children to hands-on experiential learning and provide new avenues of knowledge and understanding of their Maya roots. Modernity, wage labor, and challenges of the capital economy have changed the relationship of farmers to the land and impacted their youth. We see the garden as a tangible connection to students’ cultural heritage with potentials of providing sustainable development skills and opportunities for the future.