King Nety, what fruit would you like from your garden?
What are those floating things?
Oh my gosh, I'm starving? Are we eating maize and squash, mom?
Chinampas were created by piling mud and decaying plants into small stationary islands on top of which the farmers would sow crops. To stabilize the islands, sturdy reeds were bound together and used to both border each chinampa and to help anchor it to the ground. The resulting system of canals and gardens created a habitat for fish and birds, which helped maintain the health of the ecosystem and also provided additional sources of food.
I'm King Nety's wife. Royalty like us drinks the beans.
Hey, why did you grind those beans to drink? We buy stuff with it! Unless your royalty, of course.
Chinampas weren't the only type of farming that was used. There were crops on the mainland, as well as gardens, both small personal gardens and large experimental gardens. The gardens were a common feature in the homes of the ruling class. The people would also collect naturally growing food, such as algae in the water.
Hey dad! I met Queen Nety. Oh, by the way, my dad is a labourer. He plants and maintains the crops.
Cool! That's right. My friend is a specialist. He does the thinking.
Farms included crops of maize, beans, and squash. Maize was the staple grain of the Aztec empire, and was used to make tortillas, tamales, etc. Tomatoes and chilies were also popular crops. Also, large amounts of algae were collected from the surface of the Texcoco Lake water. High in protein, this algae was used to make bread.
The cocoa bean was highly treasured in the Aztec Empire. In fact, the bean was used as a currency, as well as Aztec food. The cocoa beans were used to make a thick chocolate drink, but far different than the hot chocolate we know today. This drink was mainly for royalty. Since they didn't use sugar, they added peppers, corn meal and spices.
There were different types of farmers, such as labourers and specialists. Labourers were of various types, some who basically worked as farm hands or even slaves, others who were responsible for the community farms. Specialists would be responsible to know what seeds were the best, how the crop rotation should work, and what would grow best on what land.