The Maya existed in large population throughout Guatemala, Belize, and the Yucatan Peninsula from the late pre-classic 400 BC until the end of the terminal classic in 800 AD. However, during the middle pre-classic from 1000 BC until 400 BC large populations centers were established around some of the largest Maya cities.

Increases in the sophistication from society, to culture, and then to civilisation were matched by the formation of class structure and skill specialisation, economy and trade, and increased production of food. Initially, large cities grew in sites that provided good agricultural land. However, as food demands increased the Maya intensified food production through drainage of swamps into grids of raised land and channels, and through terracing.

Perhaps the highest food production came from drained swamp land where soil fertility could be maintained through dredging channels, and by fish and other aquatic life from the channels.

There were a large range of crops and fruit bearing trees grown. The main sustainance crops were maize (corn) and bean's.

The Maya also extracted natural resources including harvest of wildlife for food, and forests use for timber, honey, and other products. see Maya Natural Resource Extraction

Other tree crops included papaya, annoua, sapodilla, cherimaya, coyol, and garden crops allspice, vanilla, oregano.

Domestic animals farmed for food included dogs, turkeys, deer, stingless bees, doves.