TIL: The Three Sisters

In looking up about how much effort goes into growing beans, I came across a reference to something called The Three Sisters: a notion of squash, corn, and beans being grown together. Wikipedia’s article on beans, describes it thusly:

In the New World, many tribes would grow beans together with maize (corn), and squash. The corn would not be planted in rows as is done by European agriculture, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to six stalks each.
Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, “bush beans” having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.
Squash would be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, would shade the soil and reduce evaporation, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.

I can’t help but think, that this is both a very clever idea, and rather like communities of people. Clever because while it might not be at the scale of modern industrial agriculture, it’s kind of genius to try such an experiment and see if it really works. Like communities of people because we’re likely stronger when we grow together  rather than gutting anyone who disagrees.