In May, Feed the People Farms, with the help of the IWW General Defense Committee Local #18 Food Security Working Group cleared an area of grass and legumes to make way for an ancient Cherokee grass/legume combo that is the Three Sistsers of corn, beans, and squash. For the specific varieties we have chosen, check out the Products page.
Growing grass with legumes is an ancient technique that has up until recently been lost to industrial agriculture and mono-cropping. Not us; we use this tried and true technique that was developed thousands of years ago and based on mimicking the natural grassland and prairie ecosystem. So upon noticing a lush patch of a variety of grasses with white clover, vetch, and a few broad-leaf weeds, we cleared a 50 foot by 40 foot area for 50 foot long beds. We composted the residue to be spread back on the soil later. After the area was cleared, we allowed the grasses and legumes to begin to grow back for a few weeks, then then double-dug beds 30 inches wide, and paths 18 inches wide.
The first bed will be sown with squash, and every third bed after that will be sown with squash. The squash will grow over many beds while the corn and beans can still be in 4-row blocks for better shade and easier hand pollination and harvest. Although this combination of crops is ancient, this way of building beds is not the traditional method for Three Sisters gardens. For our purposes, we have blended it with a low-till permanent raised bed method with standard bed sizes so this plot can be rotated with other crops in the coming seasons.
Wish us luck and come out for the next volunteer day!