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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