Three sistersOrganic 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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Down the Rabbit HoleRabbit hole

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