Beverley Brown , Anabel Ford, Cynthia Ellis Topsey, Sr. Barbara Flores. (Anabel Ford / Noozhawk courtesy photo)

With each opportunity I have to present Ronald Nigh and my new book, The Maya Forest Garden, there has been an increasing awareness of the contradictions between the exalted ancient Maya and the vilified milpa cycle.

With the remarkable photography of Macduff Everton as the backdrop, we have been able to show an alternative view, showing that what has been cast aside as slash and burn is really renew and restore.  

We first presented our book at Libreria Sophos in Guatemala where we were able to connect to a new public on the Maya forest garden.   

Our next presentation was in Mexico at the Jardin Botanico, the botanic garden of the preeminent Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. This was thrilling as we were included in a line up to celebrate the grain created in Mesoamerica during Dia Nacional de Maiz.

We presented with well known economic botanists and specialists in maize. We brought wonder to the participants who knew that the planted field, visually dominated by maize, was a planted with up to 30 or more different crops but did not understand how it could evolve into a forest now dominated by useful trees. We told that story.

Our most recent presentation was last week in Belize. Set in the Belize City bookstore Image Factory we were able to get full coverage for the event.

Our Belize team was featured on the morning shows of Love Television and Channel 5, and the event was fully covered by Love TV. National evening news highlighted the accomplishments: LoveFM​Channel 5 and Channel 7.

U.S. Ambassador Carlos Moreno speaks eloquently on the Maya.

U.S. Ambassador Carlos Moreno speaks eloquently on the Maya. (Anabel Ford / Noozhawk courtesy photo)

Presenters at the event opened with a Maya blessing, Ki’ki’t’aan, spoken in Mayan by the Master Forest Gardener Alfonso Tzul and translated by Master Forest Gardener Narciso Torres.

The relevancy of our book message was expanded on by Director Jane Bennet of the University of the West Indies and by U.S. Ambassador Carlos Moreno.  

The closing thanksgiving was given in Garifuna, the Arawakan language spoken by over 200,000 people in Central America, by leadership mentor Cynthia Ellis Topsey and led by Sister Barbara Flores Manager of the Roman Catholic Schools of Belize.

The success of the Belize book presentation has spawned many new projects and ideas that will keep our project very busy in the months to come.  

This week the Department of Forestry donation of 300 hardwood saplings of mahogany and cabbage bark will be planted between the Santa Familia Primary School — where we have a school garden project, Känan K’aax — and the plazas of El Pilar. Cynthia Ellis Topsey will be leading this ambitions project.

We are planning a book signing at the Tecolote Book Shop, located at 1470 E. Valley Road in Santa Barbara, March 19 in an exciting venue celebrating the publications of two UC Santa Barbara scholars publishing in archaeology.

I will be signing The Maya Forest Garden and Lynn Gamble will be signing her new book, First Coastal Californians. Join us from 2-4 p.m. to meet the authors.

Anabel Ford Ph.D. is the director of UC Santa Barbara’s MesoAmerican Research Center and president of Exploring Solutions Past. Ford, UCSB’s resident expert on Maya archaeology, discovered the ancient Maya city-center El Pilar, which bridges Belize and Guatemala. By decoding the ancient landscape around El Pilar, she is creating a sustainable model in conservation and agriculture that can regenerate the threatened Maya forest. With investment and support, her model can assist environmental efforts worldwide. Click here for more information about El Pilar. Click here