The Mayan Trifecta

Based on the ancient agricultural methods of the Mayans, milpa is a crop growing technique that produces maize, beans, and squash. These three food staples are compared to three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together.

The benefits of interplanting corn, beans, and squash are numerous and include long term soil fertility and a healthy diet.

“Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans.”

These three crops were among the first to be domesticated by Mesoamerican civilizations. Corn, beans, and squash provide a wide array of complimentary health benefits. Corn has the carbohydrates, the beans are high in protein, and squash contains necessary vitamins and oil from the seeds.