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The Three Sisters Garden: A Model of Community and Sustainable Growth

This type of companion planting is widespread among indigenous Native American farming societies


Three Sisters Garden
Three Sisters Garden
Three Sisters Garden
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According to Native American legend, corn, beans, and squash are three sisters who grew and flourished together for the benefit of the community. Corn is the oldest sister. She stands tall in the center watching over her two other sisters, squash and beans. Squash is the next sister. She protects her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist. Beans are the third sister. She climbs through the squash and then up the corn stalks binding the three sisters together as she reaches for the sun. The beans keep the soil fertile by converting the sun’s energy into nitrogen that is then used as food for the three sisters.


This traditional practice of planting corn, beans, and squash together in mounds is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provides long-term soil fertility and food that serves as a healthy diet for students and community members.


Planting different plants side by side uses their unique properties to enhance their collective growth. The College of Menominee Nation operates in a similar model. The College recognizes each individual has unique strengths and abilities that collectively help the community grow and prosper. The College prides itself on its diverse nature. The diverse talents of the College and all of its connected members consists of people with different strengths, abilities, and backgrounds like the Three Sisters working together to build/grow a stronger, more effective community college.