Three Sisters

At Incredible Edible Bristol over the last few weeks we have been fairly quiet as the world responded to and began to wake up to the systemic racism upon which much of our lives and society is based. As an organisation we have always and will continue to be, inclusive. We’ve often joked about our message being “if you eat you’re in,” but behind that sentence is a serious message. We all eat. We are all connected by food, and food must be accessible, healthy and grown in harmony with nature. There shouldn’t be trends in food, especially if they remove accessibility to that food for socio-economic reasons, and we should all celebrate the food cultures we have across our city.

With that in mind we are going to acknowledge every time we use a growing method that comes from an indigenous people, and this must start with using the 3 sisters method for growing corn, beans and squash. We are using this method st our Learning Zone in Speedwell and also at the Secret Garden in Avonmouth. This method comes from indigenous American culture. The sweetcorn supports the beans with the squash as an undercrop, keeping weeds at bay and keeping moisture in the soil by covering it with the large leaves it’s known for. The beans also support soil health by returning nitrogen to the soil through modules in its roots, and do not only do the plants support each other physically above the soil, they also support each other below the soil.

If you’d like to know more about Native American agriculture we’d strongly recommend “Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden,” written by Gilbert L Wilson, and first published in 1917.

We’ll keep you up to date on how this bed is growing across our social media channels and if it works well we’ll replicate it in Millennium Square next year, when we hope life will feel slightly more normal again.

Core team member Nick planting into the three sisters bed.