Monday, April 30, 2018

The Three Sisters

Three Sisters 1

The Native Americans, especially those nations that live in the Northeast, have a planting system called The Three Sisters. It is a system of companion gardening that allows three different crops - beans, corn, and squash - to grow that assist and nourish each other. The Old Farmers Almanac explains it this way:

"Each of the sisters contributes something to the planting. Together, the sisters provide a balanced diet from a single planting.
  • As older sisters often do, the corn offers the beans needed support.
  • The beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three. 
  • As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.
  • The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds.
  • The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons, which don’t like to step on them.
Together, the three sisters provide both sustainable soil fertility as well as a healthy diet. Perfection!"

I love this metaphor for how humans can sustain and support each other when they work in collaboration for the good of all. Each individual has a part to play, however small, that, when taken together with the talents and gifts of others, produces a healthy, happy, sustainable world. In addition, this model can be used as a template for how we "grow" everything in our lives, from families, to businesses, to nations, and, finally, a healthy planet. When we stop thinking of ourselves as individuals and start thinking of ourselves as one big family who all want to thrive, then planting the seeds of compassion, cooperation and kindness is easy and benefits all of creation.

Gee, writing this post made me hungry! I need a trip to the Farmers' Market!

And so it is!