Gardening

Monday, June 20, 2016

Transform Mesquite Pods into Tasty Flour at the 14th Annual Mesquite Milling and Wild Foods Fiesta

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 9:10 AM

Mill mesquite pods into nutritious, sweet flour. - JIM HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Jim Harris Photography
  • Mill mesquite pods into nutritious, sweet flour.

Looking out on the Tucson streets, it may feel a bit like the city has become a dead zone. While pedestrians have taken shelter from the heat inside, now is actually a very interesting time in the region agriculturally, as some of the most unique native plants are now ready to harvest. Pre-monsoon harvests include the bahidaj (or saguaro fruit) that is pivotal in the Tohono O’odham new year season and can be harvested and made into syrup, candy or a wine-like fermented ceremonial drink. Unless you have a saguaro in your yard, though, you’ll want to be sure you’re allowed to harvest the fruit, as many saguaros, including those in the eponymous national park, are protected.

That doesn’t mean you’ll be out of the desert harvest all together, though. Just look around at all of the mesquite pods ready for the picking. If you missed last week’s Desert Harvesters guided tours of foragable pods and beans growing on trees around town, you can still learn plenty at the 14th annual Mesquite Milling and Wild Foods and Drink Fiesta. There, the local nonprofit will be set up at Mercado San Agustin (100 S. Ave. del Convento) during the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market. From 4 until 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, on-site mesquite pod milling will transform all of your plucked pods into sweet, nutty flour for $3 per gallon of whole pods milled with a $10 minimum.

This special event, which goes to benefit Desert Harvesters in their mission to promote native foods and water security in the region, will also feature mesquite pod tasting, aflatoxin testing (to ensure the flour you’ve milled is safe), craft beer made with wild ingredients from Iron Johns and mesquite and chiltepin flavored cold brew from Exo Roast Co. A variety of other native and wild foods products will be for sale, such as date vinegar, cholla buds, desert lavender tea, carob powder and chiltepines. The Pima County Public Library’s seed library will be there to offer up instruction on hands-on bean tree propagation with a giveaway of food-producing native trees, as well.

More information on harvesting and milling mesquite, as well as this event, can be found on the Desert Harvesters website. 

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Harvest Wheat and Celebrate Tucson's Agricultural Heritage at the Mission Garden's San Ysidro Festival

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 4:15 PM

click image Connect to Tucson's past with this unique harvest and farming celebration. - SLEEPY CLAUS/ FLICKR
  • Sleepy Claus/ Flickr
  • Connect to Tucson's past with this unique harvest and farming celebration.

By now it’s clear that food isn’t just about restaurants and dining out, but has grown to be a movement that focuses ever more on local farms and farmers and the traditions of food in any given region. After all, Tucson wouldn’t have won its illustrious UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation without the region’s rich agricultural history paired with modern strides to not only revive it, but make it accessible and inclusive to those in the community.

One of the organizations at the forefront of that very effort in town is the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace and their heritage crop efforts at the Mission Garden. That’s why local food fanatics should head to the garden on Saturday, May 14 for the 2016 Dia de San Ysidro festival.

The event, which aims to celebrate traditional farming in Tucson by highlighting Old World and indigenous food traditions, will include a procession from Tucson Origins Heritage Park to the garden, performances from Mariachi Milagro and the Desert Indian Dancers from San Xavier, a Native American Four Directions Blessing, a presentation on water saints and acequias by M. Brescia (PhD) and a Pozole de Trigo tasting. Attendees can also take part in a community wheat harvest where you can thresh and winnow alongside members of Presidio San Agustin.

The celebration has roots in Arizona history, and the organization shows it off with an 120-year-old excerpt from the Arizona Weekly Citizen from May 19, 1894:

“All honor was shown today to San Ysidro Labrador…San Ysidro is the rural saint, the patron of the fields and crops. The image was carried today about the fields below town, with a gay procession following…At every house refreshments are on hand, and are served. A feature is usually an olla of teswin, a light wine made of corn. No other intoxicants are permitted…The first of the crop of each field was promised to the patron saint. The Chinese gardeners have come to have due regard for this annual festival, and were among the heavy contributors, some of them giving money.”

The cultural festival begins at 9 a.m. and is open to the public. While the event is free, a $5 donation is requested per person. For more information, visit the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace website.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Roses Are Red... Sometimes (SLIDESHOW)

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Spring truly sprung on the UA campus this week. As any slightly allergic nose can sense, the season of rebirth has come to the desert.

On a weekend urban hike, I encountered these beautiful blooming roses by a bike path south of Old Main near the Forbes building. They were truly spectacular so I just had to document them. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Happy spring!

Slideshow
Roses Are Red... Sometimes
Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes Roses Are Red... Sometimes

Roses Are Red... Sometimes

By Natalia Navarro

Click to View 20 slides


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Monday, March 28, 2016

Learn to Harvest Cholla Buds at the Mission Garden

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 11:00 AM

click image Thorny on the outside, delicious on the inside. - KEN BOSMA / FLICKR
  • Ken Bosma / Flickr
  • Thorny on the outside, delicious on the inside.

Intriguingly floral and bright, once you taste your first cholla bud, you'll be hooked. This native treat has been harvested in the area for millennia, and you can join in on the very Sonoran practice of cholla bud harvesting by learning from a master.

This year, cholla bud season came early, and ethnobotanist Martha Ames Burgess will be leading a class at the Mission Garden (929 Mission Lane) to show just how cholla buds were traditionally harvested and utilized in cuisine. Having learned from Tohono O’odham Elders, Ames Burgess is passing on what she knows, not only about carefully harvesting the thorny cactus flower bud, but also the ecology, taxonomy, nutrition, archaeology and traditional cultural ways to prepare and store them. The class will feature hands-on harvesting, as well as cooking in both traditional and modern methods.

The cholla bud harvesting workshop, which is sponsored by the nonprofit Friends of Tucson's Birthplace, takes place on Saturday, April 2, beginning at 8 a.m. Attendees are asked to wear a hat, long pants, closed toe shoes and your own filled water bottle. Tools will be supplied and those that join the class will get to take home their own modest stockpile of cholla buds. The class is $50, which includes instruction, informational guides, recipes and tools. Registration is required in advance and can be done so by calling 777-9270 or visiting the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace website

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tour Local Farms in Support of Mission Garden on March 5

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 4:45 PM

The lush Mission Garden will be the finale of this urban farm tour. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • The lush Mission Garden will be the finale of this urban farm tour.

Spend your Saturday learning more about urban farming through a special, self-driven tour event presented by the nonprofit Feeding Tucson. On March 5 from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., the tour will take participants to a variety of small farming operations to showcase hydroponic, aquaponic, community-ran and other kinds of edible gardens.

The tour will end at the Mission Garden for a locally sourced lunch and discussion local food production. Maps, lunch and a donation to the Mission Garden is included in the $25 fee.

More information regarding the specific sites included in the tour will be given upon registration, which can be done on the Feeding Tucson website.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Stories in the Garden Seeks to Talk Food in Tucson

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Head to the UA Community Garden for a night of stories and more. - COURTESY OF UA COMMUNITY GARDEN/ FACEBOOK
  • Courtesy of UA Community Garden/ Facebook
  • Head to the UA Community Garden for a night of stories and more.

Stories in the Garden is back to celebrate Tucson’s recent UNESCO designation as a Creative City of gastronomy. In light of that, you can join like-minded local food folks at UA Community Garden (1400 E. Mable St.) for an evening of poems and stories all about food culture.

The event will feature both a potluck (bring something to share) and a open mic-style exchange of food-centric performances. If you wish to contribute with one of your written works, plan to come to the event, which begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, a bit early to sign up. 

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Native Seeds/SEARCH Teaches the Basics of Seed Saving on Saturday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Start saving those seeds, Tucson. - TON RULKENS/ FLICKR
  • Ton Rulkens/ Flickr
  • Start saving those seeds, Tucson.

Learn the ancient art of seed saving from the folks in town who do it best when Native Seeds/SEARCH offers up a workshop on the basics of seed saving. Focusing on beginning techniques to show how to preserve seedlines from your own garden, this free event is a great place to start learning about how to make your little home farms more sustainable season after season.

You can join in by going to the Martha Cooper Branch Library (1377 N. Catalina Ave.) on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 10 a.m.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Take Advantage of Two Tax Credits for Charitable Organizations

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 at 3:08 PM

COURTESY OF PHOTOSPIN
  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
Yesterday I wrote about the tax credit donations you can give to public schools. Here are two more tax credits, each for $200—$400 for a couple. You can take all three credits and get it all back—100 percent of it—so long as you owe at least as much in state income taxes as you give. These two contributions have to be completed by this Thursday, Dec. 31. Most organizations let you pay by credit card online, so you can take care of business in a few minutes, in the time it takes to enter your information. (If you're wondering, you don't have to itemize your deductions to use the tax credits.)

One of the tax credit donations can be made to what used to be called charitable organizations that help the working poor, but now it seems they're simply being called charitable organizations. The other is for foster care charitable organizations. How do you know which organizations qualify? The Arizona Department of Revenue lists them in a List of Qualifying Charitable Organizations and a List of Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organizations. You can give $200—$400 for a couple—to each category. Some organizations fit both categories—they're highlighted in blue on the Charitable Organizations list — and if you want, you can use both tax credits for one of those organizations. 

Repeat: Both of these have Dec. 31 deadlines. That's this Thursday! If your state income tax comes to $600 or more—$1200 for a couple—you can give the maximum amount to all three, the public school and the two charitable organization tax credits. Otherwise, you have to do some picking and choosing.

Continue reading »

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Staff Pick

Porter Hall Gallery: Sightlines, a Group Show Courtesy of Etherton Gallery

The Porter Hall Gallery is pleased to welcome Sightlines, a group photography show courtesy of Etherton Gallery,… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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