The Wabanaki Garden
The Wabanaki Confederacy is made up of five First Nations: the Mi'kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Passamaquoddy, Abenaki and Penobscot.
Albert County is Mi'kmaq territory; Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet territory) goes along the St. John River and in western New Brunswick. The Passamaquoddy live in the southeast corner of New Brunswick (e.g., around Saint Andrews, St. Stephen and Grand Manan) as well as Maine. While the Mi’kmaq were largely nomadic, both the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy farmed, in addition to hunting, fishing and foraging.
At the Albert County Museum, we will feature crops traditionally grown by farmers of the Wabanaki, which means “People of the Dawn” or “People of the First Light.”
Many gardeners are familiar with the “Three Sisters” – the tradition of growing squash, corn and beans together, a practice common to many First Nations in North America. Dr. Fred Wiseman of the Seeds of Renewal Project has outlined the Seven Sisters and Two Brothers of the Wabanaki – plants grown in the Maritimes and New England.
Sisters of the Wabanaki
Corn – short-stature flint corn varieties such as Gaspe Flint and Calais Red Flint. The corn wasn’t eaten as sweet corn, but rather dried and used for cornmeal, flour or grits.
Bean– varieties such as Vermont True Cranberry, Marfax and Jacob’s Cattle beans
Squash – including East Montpelier (a Hubbard-like variety), Boston Marrow, Long Pie pumpkin, and White Scallop squash. White Scallop date back to at least 1591 when they were grown along the coast in Maine.
Sunflower – particularly a variety with pure white seeds; grown for the oil, not for eating.
Jerusalem artichoke – a relative of the sunflower that has edible tubers
Ground cherry – small, sweet relative of the tomato. The ground cherries are enclosed in papery husks.
Brothers of the Wabanaki
Tobacco – grown for ceremonial use.
Gourd – dipper gourd used as a utensil and also for art.