Three Sisters

The three sisters garden refers to a traditional Native American guild for growing staple crops. Consisting of maize, beans, and squash, ancient Mesoamericans first domesticated and cleverly combined the three sisters before spreading it north and south across the Americas.

In a three sisters garden, maize provides a living structure for the beans to climb. The beans, in turn, put nitrogen into the soil that the other plants use. Squash spreads along the ground, keeping the soil moist and blocking weeds from growing.


Some communities add a fourth sister, most commonly to attract pollinating insects. West of the Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountain bee plant serves as this fourth sister; East of the Rockies, amaranth.


#Three Sisters People

When a community focuses on its relationship with the three sisters to make a living, it can shape their lives in a wide variety of ways. A few examples include:

View Page History