Three Sisters Garden
The Three Sisters Garden at the main entrance of the Jamie L. Whitten Building along Independence Avenue preserves an important method of gardening, passed down by Tribal communities from generation to generation. For centuries, Native Americans have shared stories, ceremonies, and songs about the Three Sisters referring to a tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mound. It is a sophisticated, sustainable planting system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations of Native Americans.
Corn is the oldest sister. She stands tall in the center and provides strength and protection to her sisters below. She is not a lone plant, as she grows with a handful of corn sisters. Beans are the second sister. She surrounds Sister Corn and reaches to the sun, climbing up the corn stalks. Sister Bean’s role is to keep the soil fertile by converting the sun's energy into nitrogen filled nodules that grow on her roots. As she grows, she shares and uses the stored nitrogen as food. Squash is the third sister. Her vines trail over the mound, her leaves protect the sisters from weeds and shade the soil from the sun, and her beautiful blooms invite the bees to pollinate the Sisters while keeping the ground cool and moist. Sister Squash’s prickly stems help deter pests and rodents from eating the nutritious produce.