Chinampa (Nahuatl: chināmitl [tʃiˈnaːmitɬ]) is a method of ancient Mesoamerican agriculture which used small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico.
Sometimes referred to as “floating gardens,” chinampas were artificial islands that usually measured roughly 98 ft × 8.2 ft (30 m × 2.5 m). Chinampas were used by the ancient Aztec [Aboriginal Peoples]. In Tenochtitlan, the chinampas ranged from 300 ft × 15 ft (91 m × 4.6 m) to 300 ft × 30 ft (91 m × 9.1 m) They were created by staking out the shallow lake bed and then fencing in the rectangle with wattle. The fenced-off area was then layered with mud, lake sediment, and decaying vegetation, eventually bringing it above the level of the lake. Often trees such as āhuexōtl [aːˈweːʃoːt͡ɬ] (Salix bonplandiana) (a willow) and āhuēhuētl [aːˈweːweːt͡ɬ] (Taxodium mucronatum) (a cypress) were planted at the corners to secure the chinampa. Chinampas were separated by channels wide enough for a canoe to pass. These “islands” had very high crop yields with up to 7 crops a year.