Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three Sisters School Harvest and Tasting

Last week the 4th and 5th graders at Valley Cottage Elementary School harvested the vegetables from the “Three Sisters” garden they planted in June! 

Because our 4th grade Social Studies curriculum covers Native American culture, the planting of this type of garden was a great way for the teachers to do a “hands on” lesson.    

Here is the Three Sisters story:

Modern day agriculturists know it as the genius of the Indians, who inter-planted pole beans and squash with corn, using the strength of the sturdy corn stalks to support the twining beans and the sade of the spreading squash vines to trap moisture for the growing crop.  Resarch has further revealed the additional benefits of this “companion planting.”  The bacterial colonies on the bean roots capture nitrogen from the air, some of which is released into the soil to nourish the high nitrogen needs of the corn.  To Native Americans, however, the meaning of The Three Sisters runs deep into the physical and spiritual well-being of their people.  Known as the “sustainers of life,” the Iroquois consider corn, beans and squash to be specail gifts from the Creator.  The well-being of each crop is believed to be protected by one of the Three Sister Spirits.  Many an Indian legend has been woven around the “Three Sisters”- sisters who would never be apart from one another – sisters who should be planted together, eaten together, and celebrated together.

One of our teachers, Mrs. Signorile, arranged for 6 classrooms came out during their science periods to pick the vegetables.  Another PTA mom and I brought the vegetables home and made succotash (using the green beans we harvested instead of lima beans!)  Unfortunately, our squash vines didn’t make it to September.  We harvested squash in July and August though, before the vine borers got to them.

1 ½  cups corn kernals
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped summer squash
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½  cup of defatted chicken broth
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp hot sauce
1/8 tsp ground pepper
2 cups of baby lima beans (we used chopped green beans!)

Place a large nonstick skillet over high heat until hot.  Add corn, red pepper, onion, and cumin, saute 5 minutes until vegetables are slightly blackened.   Add summer squash, olive oil, and garlic; sauteeing an additional minute.  Reduce heat to medium-high, add broth and remaining ingredients.  Cook 3-5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently.   Yield: 8-10 half-cup servings.

The succotash was brought to school in crock pots, and we set up the tasting in the school’s courtyard greenhouse. 

Overheard at the scene:

Ewwww – what IS that? 

Smells like Mexican.

Is this what the Indians ate?

We have a garden at home, too!

Don’t give me any corn.

Give the recipe to the cafeteria!

Don’t give me any beans.

Is this sweet corn?

Who knew vegetables could taste so good?

Can I have seconds?

Our local paper, The Journal News, sent a reporter!  Here's a link to the story with lots of photos!


Joanne said...

I always enjoy your school greenhouse stories, it's such a unique feature to have for the students. Can you believe it's harvest time already ... Where did the summer go?

TALON said...

lol! I loved the conversation - sounds like any group of kids too near any veggies!

What a beautiful bounty the Three Sisters garden produced! What a great project that was! I bet the kids loved it (even if they didn't love all the veggies).

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I bet the children had such a grand time. It is good to show them how and where they get vegetable from. Not from the supermarket.

tina said...

What a great learning experience for the students. I bet if there weren't gardeners in the group before the experiment there will be now!

Patti Lacy said...

You lead a fascinating life. Yeah, I'm jealous!!!

Sigh. Must disconnect from blog hopping to meet TWO deadlines. Sure hope you occasionally drop by and fill me with your energy.

Double sigh. I don't even have time to make succotash and I WANNA!!!

11/15 seems like an eternity away...

Pam at HMG said...

Great work Jen. What would the world be like if every child had this exposure? You are paving the way for this to become reality!

Elephant's Eye said...

Ha - Can I have seconds, after no BEANS, no Corn! ;>(0)

Bangchik said...

Good for them, to be exposed early about three sisters. ~bangchik