A new feature in this year’s Humanitarian Demonstration Garden at Himalayan Institute headquarters in Honesdale, PA was the arrangement of the crops into country zones, designed to model crops and techniques  being employed at the community centers around the world. The “Mexico” plot featured an excellent demonstration of an intercropping system called the Three Sisters.

“The Three Sisters” is the Iroquois name given to a traditional planting system employed by numerous Native North American societies. Three key crops—corn, squash and beans—are planted close together so that each crop benefits from the others.

By strategically planting the crops with the right arrangement and timing, a small three sisters plot is able to provide high-yield, highly nutritious crops with a minimal environmental impact.

If you’d like to try a Three Sisters planting of your own, read more about how it is done and about companion planting in general in this publication by ATTRA: Companion Planting: Basic Concepts & Resources.