A Rio Nuevo Project That's Actually Progressing

On Saturday, downtown's Mission Gardens is getting a big boost in the form of some fruit trees with a little bit of history.

Here's the news release:

The Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace and Tucson Councilor Regina Romero invite you to a kick-off event for the Spanish-Colonial Orchard and Vineyard grant project at the Mission Garden. The event will take place from 11:00-12:30 at the Mission Garden, 946 W. Mission Lane (SE corner of Mission Road and Mission Lane), on Saturday, December 4, 2010. Light food and refreshments will be provided, courtesy of Fry’s Food Stores.

Project partners will formally announce the grant award and share plans for how this one-year project fits into the long-range plans for completion of the Mission Garden. The Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace will announce a matching grant to the project, and will begin a “Kino Heritage Fruit Tree Stewardship” fundraising campaign to provide the community with opportunities to support this project.

The Spanish-Colonial Orchard and Vineyard Project is funded through a $15,000 grant from the Arizona State Forestry Division, obtained by the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office with the assistance of the Parks and Recreation Department. The funding will support the initial planting of a historically authentic Spanish-Colonial era fruit orchard and vineyard at the Mission Garden. In honor of the centennial anniversary of Arizona statehood in 2012, this project will plant 100 Kino Heritage Fruit Trees, which are direct genetic descendants of the Old World fruit trees first introduced to southern Arizona by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and later missionaries and colonists during the Spanish Colonial period.

The Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, will help make this project possible through a matching grant of an additional $15,000 toward the necessary utility connection costs, including water and electricity. Through their Kino Heritage Fruit Tree stewardship program, the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace will conduct fundraising to pay for the remaining utility connection fees and to assist with irrigation costs.

This project will have multiple partners, including the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, Pima County, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Desert Survivors Nursery, The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences/Pima County Cooperative Extension, Tucson Audubon Society, Watershed Management Group, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, and Desert Archaeology, Inc. Also serving in advisory roles will be The University of Arizona Southwest Center, Native Seeds-SEARCH, and Sonoita Vineyards.

The Mission Garden is one portion of the overall Tucson Origins Heritage Park, a project that was approved by City of Tucson voters in 1999 as part of the Rio Nuevo ballot proposition. Learn more about the Tucson Origins Heritage Park and the Mission Garden, as well as the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace at this web site:

More information about the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project is available at this web site:

The Spanish Colonial Orchard and Vineyard Project will also be eligible for designation as a 2012 Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. Read more about Centennial Legacy projects at .