The Story of Milpa

field of corn beans and squash
Since time immemorial, corn, beans, and squash have been cultivated together in our bioregion to nourish the community.

The story of the milpa, or the Three Sisters, begins when human beings first began to farm this land. Corn provides a sturdy structure for growing plants, lifting them up to reach the warm sunlight. Beans climb the cornstalk while spreading their network of roots through the earth, stabilizing the soil and nourishing it with nitrogen and other minerals. Squash vines twine and tangle over the ground, their large leaves providing shade and moisture to protect the delicate seedlings. A sacred act across cultures, distance, and time itself, planting the milpa is perhaps the purest expression of regenerative farming, providing our community with the essential nutrients for human life even as it nourishes the land for future planting. The intertwined relationships of the milpa serve as a model for the community we aspire to build. Inspired by its deep history— and, of course, its colors, flavors, and textures—we celebrate the milpa through art, festivals, and gatherings that invite our community to taste the joy of regenerative abundance. These plants do more than provide nourishment to our bodies. They provide a pattern for growing strong cultures and healthy communities. By aligning our Village life with the patterns of the milpa—structure, nourishment, protection, interdependence—we can sustain our ancestors’ legacy as we cultivate an abundant future for all.

The Three Sisters

“Together these plants—corn, beans, and squash— feed the people, feed the land, and feed our imaginations, telling us how we might live.” –Robin Wall Kimmerer, “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Artwork by Katie Hibbard