Känan K’aax means “well cared for forest” in Mayan, and thus is a suitable name for the most recent project of the El Pilar program. In collaboration with the El Pilar Forest Garden Network (EPFGN), a model forest garden was created at the Santa Familia Primary School, in Sta. Familia, Belize. This garden serves as an engaging education site for the youth of the village, and integrates traditional gardening practices with formal education science curriculum.
The Känan K’aax school garden sets the groundwork for a community teaching site that can grow as a local, regional, and international resource on traditional Maya practices. Currently under the care and instruction of the EPFGN and the Santa Familia Primary School administration, Känan K’aax has attracted local involvement, student class visits, permaculture enthusiasts, university student interns, and international environmental educators. The Känan K’aax is designed to be the Maya forest garden educational site of Belize, providing a:
- Hands-on forest garden affiliated with the Santa Familia Primary School,
- Fundamentals of traditional practices for children and other interested groups,
- Practical model for international exchange on traditional plant uses,
- Key to nature conservation and cultural prosperity based on the importance and inherent value of the conservation strategies of the traditional Maya.