What we're learning Nov 30, 2021

There is a beloved garden relationship coveted by any green thumb. "The Three Sisters," made up of corn, beans, and squash, are three crops that complement each other in the garden as well as nutritionally. When grown in proximity to one another, these three plants provide nutrients as well as infrastructure to each other. A good gardener, who knows the plants well, implements a design strategy utilizing the assets of complementary crops. This is called "companion planting."

Robin Wall Kimmerer writes a delightful essay on "The Three Sisters" in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass. She writes, "The organic symmetry of shapes speak their message. Respect one another, support one another, bring your gifts to the world and receive the gifts of others, and there will be enough for all. Of all the wise teachers who have come into my life, none are more eloquent than these, who wordlessly in leaf and vine embody the knowledge of relationship. Alone, a bean is just a vine, squash an oversize leaf. Only when standing together with corn does a whole emerge which transcends the individual. The fruits of each are more fully expressed when they are nurtured together than alone. In ripe ears and swelling fruit, they counsel us that all gifts are multiplied in relationship. This is how the world keeps going."

We can learn something from the gardener's practice of companion planting. A wise gardener knows how the sun, soil, waters, and plants relate to one another. Wise ones work to facilitate collective meaning that transcends individual perspective and experience.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2013.