Milpa, Three Sisters and Food Forests: ancestral intercropping systems

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Bra, Italy

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November 23rd at 17:00 in your time zone

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Intercropping systems are an expression of the perfect balance between plants, developing synergies and removing pathogens.

There are countless possible combinations, and in ancient times many were widely used, as no external inputs were available. They often represented a key element for local communities to ensure their food security, resulting in an effective way to secure the supply of fresh food, but also for the reproduction of seeds in situ.

With the arrival of intensive agriculture, these ancestral systems have disappeared, as they’re not suitable for mechanized agriculture. Despite this, some systems have managed to survive thanks to the work of indigenous communities who have continued to transmit this knowledge. In this forum we get to know some of them, starting in Chiapas, Mexico, where the milpa system is based on associations between beans, corn and pumpkins. The same model can be found several thousand kilometers away in South Africa, known there as Three Sisters. Proceeding north, we find the Food Forest system, where balance is created by associating different types of crops, together with fruit trees and wild plants.


  • Saskia van Oosterhout (South Africa), botanist, agroecology researcher
  • Daniel Wanjama (Kenya), Gilgil convivium leader, Seed Saver network
  • Reyna Villatoro (Mexico), agroecological farmer, producer of tortillas and tostadas, member of Milpa System Chiapas Presidium.
  • Cielo Lourdes Moshan Pérez (Mexico), Tsotsil community,  working with CISERP, NGO collaborating with the Mitontic Seed bank

Moderator: Dali Nolasco (Mexico), Coordinator of Tlaola Serrano Chili Pepper Presidium and ITM  Advisory Board Member


If you missed the forum, you can watch it again in English



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