Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace: Mission Garden

Support Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace


Mission Garden is a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit-trees, traditional local heirloom crops and edible native plants. We are a non-profit, volunteer-based educational organization. Our primary mission is to preserve, transmit and revive the region’s rich agricultural heritage by growing garden plots representative of more than 4000 years of continuous cultivation in the Tucson Basin.

Open Wednesday – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
(April – September, Wednesdays – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – noon)
$5 per person suggested donation.

Guided tours available Tuesday through Saturday (and Sunday with advanced notice) with a reservation (parties of 5 or more). $5 per person requested. For tours contact us at 520-955-5200 or

See photos of Mission Garden work and volunteers here.

EVENT SCHEDULE: More details on News and Events page.


Tai Chi in the Garden
Saturdays at 8 – 9 a.m. (Exception: No class on March 16, and no class on mornings with temps below 50 F.)
Scott Risano from Wind River Tai Chi Chuan gives classes in the garden every Saturday.

Vermilion flycatcher

Vermilion flycatcher

Birding in the Garden
Second Thursday of each month, 8 – 10 a.m. 

Wander the garden and adjacent “A” Mountain Landfill in search of birds with Kendall Kroesen, Mission Garden Community Outreach Coordinator and Tucson Audubon Field Trip Leader.

Herbalist in the Garden
Third Saturday of each month, 9 – 11 a.m. (8 – 10 a.m. starting in April)
An expert from the Tucson Herbalist Collective will be at the garden to answer questions about the Mission Garden’s herb gardens, and the traditional uses of herbs.

Mano and metate

Mano and metate

Traditional Technologies in the Garden
Fourth Saturday of each month, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Preservation Archaeologist Allen Denoyer gives visitors hands-on experiences with the kinds of ancient technologies archaeologists find evidence of in local excavations. These include atlatls, groundstone, “flintknapped” stone tools, and much more.

More details on these events can be found on our News and Events page.




Tuesday March 12, 2019, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Artist as Scientist – Scientist as Artist
Art as a Way of Knowing the Ecology of Mission Garden
Registration Fee: $50 per person. Pre-registration required. Limited to 12 participants. Before photography, botanists, ecologists and naturalists gained local ecological knowledge of the Tucson Basin through observation, sensory exploration and “thinking out-loud in pictures” – drawing and painting. Ecologist and artist, Dr. Lee Ann Woolery, offers a comprehensive 3-hour class on Art as a Way of Knowing the Ecology of Place. There are no requirements for art skills or art experience to participate. Register by contacting Mission Garden at (520) 955-5200 or Payment can be made online at the “donate” link above right (in comments note it’s for “Artist as Scientist class”) or by sending a check to Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, PO Box 1228, Tucson, AZ 85702-1228.

Saturday March 16, 2 – 5 p.m.
Mission Garden is Growing with NAMI Southern Arizona
Support the garden and the National Alliance on Mental Health Southern Arizona at this great event. Mission Garden is a setting that encourages health and wellness for all people. Healthy outdoor activity combines with learning about healthy organic foods and how to prepare in our garden. This event will have refreshments and Dr. Deanna Lewis will give a talk entitled: I Get by with a little help from my friends: The essentials of social connection for mental health and well being. Suggested donation $15.

Saturday March 30, 2019, 9 a.m. – noon
Using Mission Garden Herbs: Infusions, Tinctures and Salves
Registration fee: $45 per person. More information and registration link coming soon.
Join herbalists Pam Hyde-Nakai and Donna Chesner on March 30 for a hands-on workshop using medicinal plants growing in Mission Garden. Donna and Pam will demonstrate an infusion, a fresh plant tincture, and a salve. Participants will leave with an understanding of simple, effective plant medicine making, as well as samples of the products created in the class demonstrations. Calendula and California poppy are blooming and thriving this spring, and we’ll get to know these wonderful, and easy to grow, plant allies. There will no doubt be some surprises popping up as well!
Pam Hyde-Nakai and Donna Chesner are practicing herbalists and educators in the field of contemporary botanical medicine, with special interested on Southwest medicinal plants. Donna has helped Mission Garden develop the Moore Medicinal Herb Garden, named after ground-breaking herbalist Michael Moore.

April 6, 2019, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Cholla Buds and Nopalitos con Mole: A Harvesting and Cooking Workshop at Mission Garden
Registration fee: $50 per person. Registration minimum 6 and maximum 16 people.
Celebrate Tucson’s City of Gastronomy and our new Mission Garden kitchen! Join us for a fun morning of on-site harvesting wild cholla cactus flower buds and young prickly pear pads for culinary ideas with moles (traditional Mexican sauces)!  Learn about traditional ways, natural history, important nutrition of each ingredient, while enjoying an amazing diversity of flavors. Find out how to adapt these ancient and historical culinary arts into your own nouvelle kitchen. Fee covers learning materials and tools, two instructors–molera Amy Valdes Schwemm and ethnobotanist Martha Ames Burgess–and a little feast of gastronomic delights. Wear hat and sturdy clothes for harvesting and cooking. $50. Sixteen participants only. Register by contacting Mission Garden at or (520) 955-5200. Payment can be made online at the “donate” link above right (in comments note it’s for “Cholla Bud, Nopalitos con Mole” class) or by sending a check to Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, PO Box 1228, Tucson, AZ 85702-1228.

April 23, 25 & 27, 2019
Agave Heritage Festival Events at Mission Garden
Learn about the crucial role of agave in our southern Arizona agricultural heritage. Learn to extract fiber from the leaves and make things from it. Taste agave fresh from the oven… and much more! More information to come.

May 18, 2019, 8 – 11 a.m.–TENTATIVE DATE/TIME
San Ysidro Festival
The historic festival of San Ysidro is recreated at Mission Garden including a procession, music, wheat harvest, threshing, winnowing and milling, and the signature dish of the festival: pozole de trigo.

August 21, 2019–TENTATIVE DATE
Tucson’s Birthday at Tucson’s Birthplace
Help us celebrate all that Tucson was and is at its birthplace.

September 21, 2019–TENTATIVE DATE
Pomegranate Festival
Help celebrate our harvest of white pomegranate. What’s a white pomegranate? Come see and taste!

October 19, 2019
Membrillo Fest
The quinces are ripe in October. Yum!

More details on these events can be found on our News and Events page.


dena-pomegranates2Teosinte 2squash 2ripening-grapes 2Figs cropped 2 - 2017

Important news about FOTB and Tucson Origins Heritage Park

More stories at the Press and Media page

New York Times article on 36 Hours in Tucson

AZ Daily Star article on grading of the Convento site

KVOA story about the same event:

Welcome, New York Times Readers!

Tucson was featured on the front page of the New York Times in celebration of our designation as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World City of Gastronomy. Mission Garden and FOTB played an essential role in gaining our home town that prestigious title, so we got both a photo and a nice nod in the article by Kim Severson.

Front overview

Mission Garden contains orchards and vegetable gardens representing Tucson’s 4,000 years of agricultural history. Credit Chris Hinkle for The New York Times

Not far from downtown, a nonprofit group is recreating a Spanish colonial walled garden like the ones Father Kino built. The Mission Garden project is a history lesson on four acres, tracing agricultural practices that began on the site with the Hohokam and Tohono O’odham tribes.

USA Today

“Chasing the sources in Tucson’s budding food scene,” by Ashley Day (August 19, 2016).

The Guardian

“Tucson, Arizona, cultivates its foodie reputation – with a nod from UNESCO,” by Kate Eshelby (July 17, 2016).