Horticulture Research Station

Reuniting the Three Sisters: Native American Intercropping and Soil Health

Authors: Emma Herrighty (Iowa State University) , Derrick Kapayou (Iowa State University) , Ajay Nair (Iowa State University) , Christina Gish Hill (Iowa State University) , Marshall McDaniel (Iowa State University) , Donna Winham (Iowa State University)

  • Reuniting the Three Sisters: Native American Intercropping and Soil Health

    Horticulture Research Station

    Reuniting the Three Sisters: Native American Intercropping and Soil Health

    Authors: , , , , ,

Abstract

A growing movement within Native American communities is the revitalization of cultural growing practices. Significant to this is the traditional intercropping system of corn, beans, and squash, known colloquially as the Three Sisters. This system is well-known for the symbiosis of the plants and their biological functions for being planted together. The corn provides structural support, and bean fixes nitrogen in the soil for the other plants. Sister squash provides ground cover, increasing soil moisture and suppressing weed growth. Each plant has its own unique role, contributing to the overall health and productivity of the system. From a social perspective, these crops also fulfill required dietary needs, providing starches, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, the growing of the Three Sisters can have significance for improving food security and human health.

How to Cite:

Herrighty, E., Kapayou, D., Nair, A., Gish Hill, C., McDaniel, M. & Winham, D., (2021) “Reuniting the Three Sisters: Native American Intercropping and Soil Health”, Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms Progress Reports 4.

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Published on
01 Mar 2021