Any gardener knows that the secret to a healthy plant is a strong root system. He’s one of the things that makes Tucson’s Mission Garden so special. The roots here are incredibly deep, reaching depths of over 4,000 years.
Mission Gardens is a living museum that preserves the lineage of Tucson’s amazing agricultural history. But there is nothing soothing or stuffy about this museum.
It’s green and furry, full of butterflies, hummingbirds, flowers, and full of life. The tree branches are heavy with fruit and the trellis is wrapped in vines. Hundreds of small fish swim in Acequia, an irrigation canal. The scent of the earth and the soft autumn sunlight permeate the space. And while I prepare to plant new seeds, I hear people digging and turning over bare plots. It brings fresh taste to each season.
Best Tucson Hikes:Where to see waterfalls, mountains and rare crested cacti
What is Tucson’s Mission Garden?
The 4-acre property is set behind an adobe wall at the foot of Sentinel Peak and cultivates traditional fruit trees, native crops and edible native plants. This is the food that has fed the Tucson community for generations. There is also hope that we can point the way to future food sustainability in a changing climate.
Managed by the Tucson birthplace nonprofit Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, the Spanish Colonial Walled Garden has been growing since 2012. It occupies the site of the original Mission San Agustin Gardens, established by Spanish missionaries near the banks of the Santa Cruz River.
The first planting in 2012 set the tone. Friends planted 120 trees acquired from Kino Heritage fruit trees, a cultivar that can be traced back to those introduced in the late 17th century.th and early 18th It has been passed down through the centuries by Jesuit missionaries such as Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and later Franciscan missionaries.
Today, Mission Gardens has about 10 different parcels representing the diverse groups and cultures that have farmed in the Tucson Basin over the centuries. They include the Mexican Garden, the pre-European Odham Garden, the post-European Odham Garden, the Territorial Garden, the Chinese Garden, and the African Garden of the Americas.
“Mission Gardens seeks to represent every era and culture of Tucson history by growing plots that contain as accurately as possible the exact varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains that were grown during that era. ,” said Kendall Clausen, Community Outreach Coordinator.
Best of Tucson:Guide to Mexican restaurants, historic districts and must-see spots
Things to see and do in Mission Garden
Mission Gardens is open to visitors and a tranquil place to learn about Tucson’s origins. A dirt trail weaves through the gardens below Sentinel Peak, also known as A-Mountain. A model of an irrigation canal provides a habitat for the endangered Gila monster and is being used to re-establish populations in the wild.
Chairs, benches and ramadas are hidden among the various compartments. A long vaulted trellis covered with vegetation creates a green tunnel. It’s a cozy break away from the city yet part of it. By its very nature, the garden is a place of hope, a place where future harvests can always be expected.
The orchards are so tall it’s hard to believe they started only ten years ago. In fact, everything seems fine here.
These are all proven plants adapted to the conditions of the Sonoran Desert. They grow in the fertile floodplains of the Santa Cruz River and are subject to thoughtful gardening practices. Here we amend the soil with organic matter and compost. If the soil is healthy, worms, fungi, and bacteria live. This releases essential nutrients and produces more oxygen to nourish plant roots.
“Mission Gardens is an educational space that gives a voice to all those who played a part in Tucson’s history and their modern-day descendants,” says Clausen. “A place where all are welcomed and respected.”
Road trip:How to Plan the Best Weekend Trip to Tucson
Volunteers are the key to Mission Garden’s success
Often their descendants are deeply involved in the project. Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace works closely with community stakeholders at many parks. The people of Oddam help plant and interpret the Native American Timeline Garden. The Yaki tribe is involved in Yoeme Garden. Volunteers from the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center help out at the Chinese Garden. Such connections help facilitate the continuation and exchange of traditional knowledge.
The success of the garden depends on the hard work put in by an army of dedicated volunteers. They can also answer questions and point out fascinating details. More than 200 volunteers help out at Mission Gardens, strengthening ties with the local community.
“Initially, the volunteers were mainly gardening, planting and pulling weeds,” says Clausen. “But now, with the exception of stakeholder groups, some of them are starting to specialize in certain garden plots.
“Some have become very sophisticated gardeners and plot historians. Servants, and other roles.This wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Free things to do in Tucson:Fun activities that don’t cost a penny
looking to the future
Mission Garden offers a window into the past, but it’s not rooted in it. The garden promotes agricultural techniques that combine traditional knowledge with modern science.
For today’s desert gardener, it’s your chance to discover the crops that have been cultivated for centuries, how you can use them, and what you can learn from them. Demonstrations of how produce and fruit are prepared with both traditional and contemporary recipes.
The garden store offers a wide variety of seasonal produce, dried herbs, fresh eggs, manure, compost, history and gardening books, shirts, hats and more. Native shrubs, trees and vegetables are available at certain times of the year.
Mission Gardens regularly hosts community events such as guided walks, gardening classes, cooking demonstrations, and fruit and vegetable festivals. Bird walks are held on the second Thursday of each month from 8-9:30 am. A presentation on traditional Oddam farming will take place from 8am to noon. 3rd Saturday of every month. Archeology Days are every 4th Saturday (except December) from 8am to 1pm. See website for other events.
One of the new lots coming soon is Tomorrow’s Garden. According to Kroesen, “It combines traditional drought-tolerant crops with sustainability techniques to adapt to rising global temperatures, increasing weather extremes and even water supply shortages. , will be a garden that models how we can garden in the future.
“We hope to be part of a better food security future.”
Directions to Mission Garden
when: Wednesday-Saturday 8am-2pm.
where: 946 W. Mission Lane, Tucson.
Admission fee: A donation of $5 per person is suggested.
detail: 520-955-5200, www.missiongarden.org.
Mission Garden event
Big Lead: On January 14th, local authors will read at this literacy event. The event will also feature Bookworm Path (his 20 spots in the garden are stocked with books and activities for children).
Native American Art Fair: On February 4, 40 Native American basket makers, potters, painters, jewelers, sculptors and other artisans will exhibit and sell their work.
Citrus Celebration: On February 18, a wide variety of citrus trees grow in the garden, including Mexican sweet limes, Meyer lemons, Valencia oranges, grapefruits, pomelos, and tangerines. Though often considered strictly an ornamental tree, much of the focus is on the tart Seville orange, a global source of marmalade and many other uses.
find a reporterwww.rogernaylor.com. Or follow him on Facebookwww.facebook.com/Roger NaylorinAZ or twitter @AZRogerNaylor.