/Grade 3 students plant Three Sisters garden
Sophia Collins Madilin Haywood Anica Sabel and Matthew Anderson work together on May 30 to plant the annual Three Sisters garden located at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre. Students from Archie Stouffer Elementary School joined volunteers from the Minden & District Horticultural Society and the Haliburton County Master Gardeners to prepare the garden for companion plants corn bean and squash and also to repot seedlings of bug-resistant plants: geraniums marigolds mint and basil for inside the buildings. Produce from the garden that survives the raccoons is donated to the Minden Food Bank. /SUE TIFFIN Staff

Grade 3 students plant Three Sisters garden

By Sue Tiffin
collaboration of students and adult volunteers working together on a
sunny day last week planted a garden with a crop that will also work
group of Grade 3 Archie Stouffer Elementary School students and
volunteers from the Minden and District Horticultural Society and the
Haliburton County Master Gardeners shared with each other what they knew
about weeding, gardening and repotting when they joined together
outside at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre on May 30 to get things
To many, the scene would be a familiar one: last Thursday
marked the 17th year around this time that ASES students have partnered
with teaching staff and volunteers from the MDHS and the HCMG to plant
on the cultural centre grounds.
program, which originally had students and volunteers coming weekly to
the garden for eight weeks was first planned in January 2002 by Bonnie
Pentney of the HCMG, Pauline Plooard of the HCMG and MDHS, Irene
Alexander of the MDHS and a volunteer at ASES, Anje Hilkers and Anna
Holloway of the MDHS and Carol Miles, then curator of Minden Hills
Museum, and with support from Grade 3 teachers Michele Coneybeare and
Darlene Hill. Financial support was offered by MDHS, the Haliburton
County Master Gardeners, the Minden Hills Museum and the Haliburton,
Kawartha, Pine Ridge, District Health Unit
“Initially flowers were
the focus: heritage perennial gardens for the museum and classroom
activities concerning seeds, propagation, pollination and
transplanting,” reads a history of the program written by Pauline
Plooard with updates by Pat Johnson, leader of the youth program of the
MDHS. “Eventually shrubs, apple trees and vegetables were incorporated
into the museum gardens.” 
Paliwoda, a longtime lead of the program recommended a Three Sisters
garden for Grade 3 students, given that it fit the Growing Green Plants
and Pioneer Life units of the school curriculum. 
Three Sisters garden contains corn, beans and squash: the three
sisters,” reads the history by Plooard and Johnson. “For centuries, this
type of garden was planted by the Native Americans who passed the
technique on to the European settlers. The Three Sisters provided a
nutritious diet and ensure continuous fertility of the soil. The
proteins in corn and beans complement each other and provide all the
essential amino acids. The squash provides additional vitamins. The
beans fix nitrogen from the air into the soil to be used by the corn and
squash. The corn provides a structure for the climbing beans. The
squash leaves shade all the roots to conserve moisture, prevent weeds
and their prickly texture deters predators. The produce from this garden
goes to the Minden Food Bank (except for the corn which goes to the
program, now six weeks long, changes annually. This year students and
volunteers also repotted seedlings of bug-resistant plants like
geraniums, marigolds, mint and basil to put inside buildings on the
cultural centre grounds. The rest of the program is held at the school
or on small field trips, and includes hands-on activities like growing a
sunflower or pumpkin from seed in a plastic bag greenhouse; making seed
balls; learning about worms; taking a tour of Home Hardware’s Garden
Centre; repotting a geranium donated by Home Hardware to take home,
learning about butterflies and making a bee house. 
kids really enjoy the program and learn a lot,” said Johnson. “It’s a
fun way to teach them about plants and we all enjoy it.”

A similar program for elementary school students runs in Bobcaygeon.