Native Americans were experts at tilling the ground in a way that was in harmony with nature. They didn’t use methods that would hurt the earth because they believed that everything they did would have to be beneficial to mankind and to the Earth itself.
There is a tale that is told in this fascinating storytelling culture. It is the legend of The Three Sisters which is documented in Robin Wall Kimmerer’ book Braiding Sweetgrass.
This legend reminds us of three sisters that came to a village during a snowstorm to seek shelter. The community generously shared what little food they had with them. In gratitude, the sisters revealed themselves as the embodiments of corn, beans and squash, and they gave the villagers plenty of seeds from these plants.
What the community learned from this tale is far more than just a story, it was an expression of traditional farming techniques that could be used to harvest in more natura and efficient means. The story of the Three Sisters embeds unparalled wisdom on how to grow these crops effectively without resorting to harmful contemporary agricultural practices.
The corn grows fast and provides support to the beans, which wrap their leaves around their stems. Beans trap moisture by growing their leaves. The squash has pointy leaves which create a natural defence against insects and pests. Growing these crops in parallal proved to be extremely effective and completely free of harmful practices.