Indigenous Agriculture: Intercropping
Grade Level: 
One example of Indigenous agriculture is intercropping, where two or more crops are planted together in order to help each other grow. In this lesson, students will engage with a text about the “Three Sisters” method of intercropping beans, corn, and squash. Then students will have the option to plant a three sisters garden. We suggest taking time with your class to acknowledge the Indigenous lands your program is situated on. In the “Reference” section of this lesson, you will find a list of resources for creating land acknowledgments and resources for discussing settler colonialism.
Guiding Questions
  • How does the three sisters' planting method align to organic farming practices?
Download Lesson Materials
Teaching Notes: 
  • This is a text-heavy lesson and asks students to complete a close reading. We recommend that you print the reading for students and assign the reading in small groups. Then have students share out and discuss as a larger group.
  • The “READ” section of this lesson may feel a little dense to some students without the proper support. We suggest the following strategies for supporting students to engage fully with the text:
    • Instruct students to find a quiet place to sit and encourage them to observe their surroundings before and after they read. This helps them engage with their surroundings in a different way and can also support their engagement with the text.
    • Assign sections of the reading as a jigsaw: Assign small groups a different topic each, and then have groups report back to one another after they have finished reading with their topic in mind.
    • Remind students that the Talk to the Text or T4 strategy can be used when reading texts to help track their thoughts, questions, and reactions to a text. In these strategies, students write notes and ask questions in the margins, underline words, and use symbols to react to the text.
    • Read the article aloud and have students take notes as they listen. It might be helpful to stop frequently as you read to write down keywords, phrases, or ideas on chart paper. Take your time through the reading and ask your students their thoughts along the way.
  • This lesson is primary text based. Check out the lesson, Making Sense of What You Read for helpful suggestions for textual analysis.
  • The “REFLECT” section of this lesson can serve as guiding questions for an open discussion in the garden. Consider expanding on these questions and having students do a Think, Pair, Share.
  • The “OPTIONAL” section of this lesson offers some great ways to integrate research and analysis into the lesson.
  • You may notice that the term “Indigenous” is capitalized throughout this and other lessons in the curriculum. Learn more about our decision to use “Indigenous” instead of “indigenous” here.
  • This lesson was developed for Edible Schoolyard Project’s Understanding Organic curriculum and is part of the extension inquiries.