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Yolcan Project

Yolcan is an environmental and socio-cultural initiative that takes an integral approach on preserving and enhancing an ancient agricultural technique called Chinampas. Chinampas agriculture was a strategy employed by the Mexica Empire to expand and gain farmland on the surface of the Texcoco Lake. The strategy consisted of extensions to shoreline that would be built as a series of fertile soil platforms with frames made of tree trunks.

The Yolcan project attempts to reconcile Mexico City with its ancient agricultural roots and seeks to protect the unique landscape of Xochimilco, one of the four World Heritage Sites in the city. Driven to rescuing Mexico’s undervalued heritage, Yolcan strives to improve local agricultural conditions as a platform for connecting local producers to fair trade market channels.

The vision of Yolcan is to empower local farmers by training them in organic agricultural practices while developing a bioremediation processes together with the National University (UNAM) to ensure a sustainable chain of production. By selling to local consumption groups organized by the principles of consumer supported agriculture, as well as restaurants that prioritize locally-grown, seasonal and chemical-free ingredients, Yolcan is able to plant and harvest a diverse variety of native heirloom vegetables and herbs not included in the crops usually destined for the macro markets of produce sales. In doing so, Yolcan is building their business plan on the idea that it is still possible to design a local diet looking towards a sustainable future, tapping into historical traditions as well as into contemporary resources and ideas.

Currently, Yolcan intents to expand its socio-cultural impact through the development of the “Chinampera School”, a skill-building program that will educate local farmers in the processes of this ancient agricultural technique. This school represents the first step in a line of initiatives that seek to strengthen the local agricultural economy, and will be followed by the appropriation of land as well as the creation of a bigger cooperative commercial network.

Project name Yolcan Project
Period 2011
Contributor Lucio Usobiaga and Antonio Murad
Location Colonia Anzures / Xochimilco