Inspirational Three Sisters Mounds Sunshine Experiment with Sunflowers and Community Seed Distribution in Evansville, Indiana

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Catalpa Tree LLC
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Lindsey Krantz
Catalpa Tree LLC

Information Products

Yard Sign (Display)


  • Agronomic: clovers, corn, sunflower
  • Vegetables: beans, squash


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, multiple cropping, varieties and cultivars, 3 Sisters
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: mulches - living
  • Production Systems: permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation, quality of life, sustainability measures, urban agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    In this project, "Inspirational Three Sisters Mounds Sunshine Experiment with Sunflowers and Community Seed Distribution in Evansville, Indiana," we will grow three spectacular 24ft-wide formations of seven 4ft-wide mounds each.  We will grow specialty/ancient varieties of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers that are native to America.

    This project is ecologically sound, because 3 Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) naturally enrich the soil and help each other grow.  A 4th Sister of sunflowers enriches the fabric of the plantings, too, and will be planted on the North side of the formations to avoid shading the 3 Sisters.

    This project is social responsible, because it is a type of intercropping / symbiotic planting practiced in Indiana since time immemorial, but has died out almost completely (in Evansville, IN, at least).  Much respect goes to Indigenous peoples' planting techniques which inspire this project.  The community seed distribution will cause 3 Sisters plus sunflowers plantings to proliferate across Evansville, IN.

    This project is economically viable, because it changes lawn into productive cultivated land that can be cultivated over and over during and after this project.  It pays decent compensation to the three socially disadvantaged people working on it and will sell well.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    1. Respect and educate about the Indigenous agricultural practice of 3 Sisters (corn, squash, and beans) plus sunflowers mounds plantings.

    2. Inspire an increase in urban agriculture by placing a spectacular 24ft diameter circular planting in my front yard and two 24ft plantings in back yard (seven 4ft diameter by 4in raised mounds per planting), with 5 field days.

    3. Find out whether the shady or sunny plantings make more pounds of produce and distribute the information.

    4. Equip neighbors in Evansville, IN, with sunflower, squash, corn, and bean seeds, to be used to recreate my plantings or to innovate alike.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.