Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace: Mission Garden

Mission Garden logo Seed

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 Saturdays:
April through November 8 am to 12 pm
December through March 10 am to 2 pm

See photos of Mission Garden work and volunteers hereFor guided tours call 520-955-5200 and leave message or email


Making adobe bricks at Mission Garden

Making adobe bricks at Mission Garden

Adobe Brick Open House
Saturday February 10, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Mission Garden volunteers are making 800 adobe bricks for a new wall to be located between the Mexican Garden and the Chinese Garden. This ongoing project will be on display on February 10. Come watch them make the bricks and ask questions about adobe brick materials and techniques. What is the dirt they are using? What are the other ingredients? How are they formed? How long do they take to dry? There will also be opportunities to jump in and get your hands dirty.
Suggested donation for visiting the garden is $5 / person. The garden will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.

Cotton and Wool Spinning Demonstration
Saturday March 24, 2018, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Gayle Hartmann will be in the garden demonstrating how to spin cotton into thread. She will talk about the differences between modern cotton and the Native American cotton that is grown in the garden. You can participate by separating seeds from cotton and learning how to card both cotton and wool. You can also learn how to make colitas de borrego (little sheep tails) of cotton. There will be some opportunity for people to try spinning wool and cotton. Gayle will have some woven items that show what cotton and wool can make. Gayle Hartmann has an M.A. in anthropology and has worked as an archaeologist for many years. She is currently a Research Associate at the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona.  She has also been president of the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation and was on the Tucson Presidio Trust board for 15 years.
Suggested donation for visiting the garden is $5 / person. The garden will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.

Culinary and Medicinal Herb Open House
Saturday March 31, 2018, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Expert on Southwestern medicinal herbs, Donna Chesner, and native food maven Martha Burgess, will be at the Mission Garden on March 31 talking about traditional Southwestern herbs. They will provide tastes of healthful native foods and teas. Martha will be preparing healthful treats and teas before your eyes, and Donna will be giving tours of the healthful herbs and foods in various parts of the garden, including our two herb gardens. Come to the garden and, for only the suggested entry donation of $5.00, have a tour of the orchards, vegetables and herb gardens and learn about healthful native foods and heritage crops. This special open house at the Mission Garden is sponsored by the Stonewall Foundation, as part of a series of events celebrating heritage foods and cuisines. Settle in with Donna and Martha and ask them your questions about healthy heritage eating. The Mission Garden has two herb gardens. One is in the Spanish huerta (vegetable garden) and grows the herbs favored by the Spanish missionaries. The other is the Michael Moore Medicinal Herb Garden, on the west side of the Mission Garden near the education building. It celebrates the native herbs of the Southwest as rediscovered and promoted by Michael Moore.
Suggested donation for visiting the garden is $5 / person. The garden will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.


Recent news about FOTB and Tucson Origins Heritage Park:

AZ Daily Star article on grading of the Convento site

KVOA story about the same event:

Welcome, New York Times Readers!

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, 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).