Organic gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and beautiful garden. Certain plant combinations grow better together than separately. Different plants have varying demands for water, sunlight and soil nutrients – therefore they don’t compete directly with one another for available resources.
Permaculture (permanent + agriculture) is an agriculture design system that mimics nature’s own wisdom to produce more sustainable results. Permaculture includes the concept of companion planting — planting crops close together that are mutually beneficial. The idea is that by practicing polyculture, you are recreating conditions similar to nature and stimulating biodiversity and increasing the overall health of the garden.
One example of companion planting is called the “Three Sisters” in Native American tradition. Maize (corn), beans and squash enjoy a special, mutually beneficial relationship.
The tall corn stalks act as a living beanpole for the beans to climb. The beans fix nitrogen to the soil for the corn and squash to utilize, and the low-growing squash spreads out, blocking the sunlight, helping to prevent weeds and acting as a “living mulch” that helps retain the soils moisture.
In business (and in life) I have begun to seek out people I can “companion plant” with. I find that working with others in teams, formed intentionally, for mutual benefit, to be extremely satisfying and rewarding.
Our roles sometimes change throughout the duration of a project or relationship. Sometimes one person provides support, like the corn, and later serves as squash, the weed-preventer, helping to optimize the climate for the group to be nourished and to grow.
I encourage you to take a look around at your social garden and look for opportunities where this model can work for you. Let me know how it goes!
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If you found this interesting, you may also enjoy these other articles I have written or projects I have been involved with:
- Social media (and gardening) can be more fun and productive when you connect with a group. Benefits of Gardening in Community
- Unrelated businesses can form synergies with their marketing to more effectively reach their mutual target prospect: Social Media Sales Funnel: A Bride Plans a Wedding
- More on permaculture (sustainable agriculture design) with local author and Permaculture Designer: Permaculture Solutions to Climate Change (Book project by Randy Jamrok); podcast interview with Randy Jamrok
- It’s not always about money — creativity and cooperation are changing “business as usual”: Alternative Economic Models: Swaps & Co-ops (Webinar)
- Everything goes better when you “begin with the end in mind”, including social media. I talk about how this effects the new relationship economy: Intentional Connecting: How Does Your Social Network Grow (WVLP interview with Tracy Traut, rebroadcast on 219 GreenConnect podcast)
- Local food needs an entire system to support it. During this segment we talk about current initiatives within Northwest Indiana: Local Food Update (WVLP interview with Sandy Rodriguez and Tracy Traut, rebroadcast on 219 GreenConnect podcast)