Blessing USDA’s Three Sisters Garden


Big doings at USDA headquarters in D.C. today – Earth Day.  The new all-organic People's Garden was unveiled, and booths were manned with experts in composting, Monarch butterflies, "BioPreferred" products, and lots more.  And the blessing of the new Three Sisters Garden shown here was actually moving, especially for dedicated organic folks just coming back after eight long years in bureaucratic Siberia.

Oh, and Three Sisters Gardens?  They're a centuries old Native American combination of corn, beans and squash in a sophisticated, sustainable way that provides for long-term soil fertility, and their planting was an occasion for songs like this one.

(As the camera pans to the left you see Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, who said she was "thrilled" to have an excuse to wear jeans to work that day.)


  1. Bother! Now I had to carry my ancient oak clad PC into my garden so that my 3 sisters bed was blessed too. So thanx Susan, I think. 😉

    Note to self: buy a laptop already!

    BTW it’s the third time I’m having a 3 sisters bed in my potager. Blogged about it on my Dutch garden blog too as many people over here have never heard of it.

  2. One of my neighbors was inspired by her 7 year old daughter, who was inspired by a school lesson, to plant her first 3 Sister’s garden (fully documented) and now there is a summer school 3 sisters garden. They used old fish from the freezer for fertilizer, and no newspapers for mulch. the Native Americans did not have newspaper.A purist approach. Hooray for inspired kids!

  3. I’m a big fan of the garden at the Museum of the American Indian. If you visit DC, be sure to walk by, even if you don’t go inside. It’s messy, a bit unruly and teeming with native plants.

    I often wonder if one of the curators picks the produce before passerby get a hold of it!

  4. Suzq – and if you are in DC TODAY – The NMAI grounds is having a big garden fest – lots of things for kids to dothere too.

    As to who picks the produce at NMAI – you can look to the many tourists and also the neighborhood rats that come out at night.

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