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 – November 8 am to 12 pm, December – March 10 am to 2 pm. $5 per person suggested donation.

Guided tours available Tuesday through Sunday with a reservation (parties of 5 or more). $5 per person requested. For tours call 520-955-5200 and leave message or email

See photos of Mission Garden work and volunteers here.

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

Cholla buds, harvested and despined (Martha Burgess)

Cholla buds, harvested and despined (Martha Burgess)

Friday April 20, 8 – 11 a.m.
Cholla flower buds are swelling with the heat.  Using hands-on, we will learn from ethnobotanist Martha Burgess how traditional harvesters picked them, de-spined, prepared, and stored these nutritious buds.  We will cook and taste old and new cholla bud recipes to experience their super-nutrition!  You will take home practical knowledge for identifying different chollas, for propagating your own cacti, harvesting from your own backyard, and serving the buds with a flair in tasty dishes!   Come prepared for desert heat with hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, water and tongs. $45. To sign up, call 520-955-5200, write to, or pay below:

Tour of Hohokam Agave Plantation
Friday April 27, 8 – 11 a.m.
Paul Fish and Suzanne Fish, professors of anthropology and curators of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum, lead a guided tour of a Hohokam agave field complex on the slopes of the Tortolita Mountains north of Tucson. Learn about the history of ancient Tucson agave cultivation and the role it played in Hohokam settlement and economy.  Bring desert walking shoes, water, and a hat. Space is limited. $30. Purchase tickets here.

Opening of the Agave Roasting Pit
Saturday April 28, 5 – 8 p.m.
Celebrate the opening of the agave roasting pit and taste roasted agave fresh from the earth oven! Paul and Suzanne Fish, professors of anthropology and curators of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum, will explain the prehistoric use of the agave plant. Jesus Garcia of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum opens the earth oven, demonstrating the ancestral practice of agave roasting. Carolyn Niethammer will demonstrate how to cook agaves at home. There will also be agave spirit tasting interpreted by Doug Smith from Exo Roast Co. Space is limited. $45 ($15 under 21). Purchase tickets here.

Heritage Plant Sale
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Fig trees, pomegranates, quinces, grapevines, herbs and more will be on sale.

San Ysidro Festival, & Dedication of Chinese & Mexican Gardens
Saturday May 19, 9 – 11:30 a.m.
Come celebrate our harvest of White Sonora Wheat. See the wheat harvested, threshed and winnowed and milled, all with traditional tools and methods. Also experience the dedication of two of our newest garden areas.


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).