Terrace Farming in the Inca Empire Illustration

Inca Empire for Kids
Terrace Farming

The Incas were great farmers. The three staple crops were corn, potatoes, and quinua - quinua seeds were used to make cereal, flour, and soups. Corn was special to the Incas. It was used in religious ceremonies. They also used it to make a drink called chicha. The Incas were the first civilization to plant and harvest potatoes.

Besides their staple crops of corn, potatoes, and quinua, they grew tomatoes, avocados, peppers, strawberries, peanuts, squash, sweet potatoes, beans, pineapple, bananas, peanuts, spices, and coco leaves to make chocolate. They kept honeybees. Occasionally, seasonal hunts were organized to catch meat for the nobility. Commoners ate very little meat, but they did not go hungry.  

The Incas invented the first freeze-dried method of storage. They left their food out in the cold to freeze. Then they stamped on the frozen food to squeeze out the water. They left their stamped on food in the sun to dry. It worked. When they wanted to use the dehydrated foods, they simply added water.

The Incas invented terrace gardening. They carved steps of flat land up the side of the mountain to create flat land for farming. The terraces also helped to keep rainwater from running off. They reduced erosion. The government built raised aqueducts to carry water to farmlands for irrigation.

The Inca farmers grew more food than was needed. Some of their food was dried and stored in royal warehouses for times of war or famine.

Dried Food: Because they lived high in the Andes, where it was often cold, it was easy to dry food. First, they left it out to freeze. Then they stamped on it until most of the water was out. They left it out in the sun to finish drying. And presto - dried food.

Terrace Farming: The Inca invented terrace farming. They lived in the mountains. Flatlands were rare. So, they simply created flat land by building steps of land for agriculture down the mountainside. This was great for irrigation. Instead of rainwater running down the mountainside, the Inca channeled it through each step. They also built aqueducts to carry water where it was needed.

Incas for Kids