Roving Reporter | "Rockport's Own 'Four String Farm' to Appear in Smithsonian Exhibit" | Article by Justin Butts

"Friends, you have seen a lot of information on this site about the Three Sisters, the ancient Native American technique for inter-planting corn, beans, and squash. We have explored the benefits of this method, its sustainability, and its rich history. Here is something about the future of the Three Sisters.

Beginning this month, the Smithsonian Institute will launch a new exhibit called “H2O Today”. “H2O Today” explores the beauty, the diversity, and the great challenges of global water resources in the 21st Century.

I am thrilled to announce that Four String Farm will be featured in this exhibit. We appear in the section devoted to agriculture, in a case study about the irrigation techniques of the Zapotec Indians a thousand years ago. An image from Four String Farm is used to illustrate the components of the Three Sisters technique. Our modern thriving farm in Rockport is contrasted with the Zapotec ruins at Monte Albán, in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The Smithsonian featured our farm because it is a working example of sustainable agriculture using traditional methods. Visitors to the interactive exhibit can click on our website to find a wealth of information about the Three Sisters freely available to the public. These water-saving techniques point to the future of agriculture in a water-dwindling world.

What’s more, the “H2O Today” exhibit will travel to more than thirty cites across America from 2016 all the way to 2020. The educational opportunities of this exhibit will reach tens of thousands of people in every corner of this great nation. (I will post more about the exhibit once it is completed and on display.)

I have visited farms all over the world, in jungles, mountains, deserts, and rich fertile plains, but I have never seen the Three Sisters used anywhere in agriculture. I discovered this method in history books, and taught myself the technique through trial and error while building a pioneer farm out of a wilderness. And now our modest gardens will appear in the Smithsonian.

I have long said that the Three Sisters is the best-kept gardening secret in America. But now, with the power and scope of the Smithsonian, I don’t think the Three Sisters will be a secret for long.

A Special Note for Shannon at the Smithsonian:

Shannon, you made our day/month/year when you contacted us. I never imagined that in this career, I would one day sign a contract with the Smithsonian!

I know it took work for you to find us, to wade through all the information out there and drill down to this site, not to mention the thousands of sites and materials you covered in your research. Then, to take all that information and bring it to life, is just remarkable. The Smithsonian is the best institution of its kind in the world because of people like you.

Please know how thrilled our family has been to be part of this process. Thank you for finding us and making us a part of this living history you are presenting to the world.

(The image in the Smithsonian is reserved for their exclusive use–here are other images from our Three Sisters gardens!)"

Purple Bean Flowers on a Corn Stalk Trellis

Three Sisters Garden

Hopi Indian Corn on Left, Melons and Squash, Sunflower Hedgerow in Back


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