Three Sisters

David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH

Planting corn, beans, and squash together, reverently referred to as the "three sisters," originated with the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois. The three seeds would be planted together to assist with drainage and avoided water logging of the plant roots. The sisters dish up a wholesome, nutritious meal. Corn is a source of carbohydrates. Dried beans are rich in protein and provide amino acids. Squash is an important source of vitamins and minerals absent from corn and beans. There is also the benefit the plants provide to each other. Corn provides a substrate for the beans to climb on. Beans provide nitrogen to fertilize the soil while also stabilizing the corn during inclement weather. The large squash leaves shade the ground, which helps retain soil moisture and prevents undesirable weeds. In short, the three sisters are the foundation of a stable and sustainable dietary community.
NEHA has its own version of the three sisters. In our case, the three are our individual members, our affiliates, and the third leg of the stool, our national association (i.e., NEHA). This month's column focuses on the importance of our affiliates. It also highlights results from a recent affiliate survey and what NEHA is doing to meet affiliate needs.

Read the DirecTalk Column in Full


Journal of Environmental Health
May 2020
Volume 82, Number 9