Stories

Mission Garden’s Commercial Kitchen

We are nearing a completion of a long-awaited project in the Garden—a commercial kitchen.  This kitchen will be equipped with a stove and hood, a freezer, refrigerator, ice maker, two hand sinks, a 3 compartment and a 2-compartment sink and two rolling metal tables for preparation.

In the next two weeks we will be submitting our plans for a permit to complete and to install all the above tools.  When complete, hopefully within 6-8 weeks, we will have a fully functioning commercial kitchen to provide us with the ability to cook farm to table dinners, make preserves from the Garden, to cater special events at the Garden and to bring the full richness of native plants, heritage fruits and vegetables to Garden visitors.

Mission Garden’s kitchen and heritage food related projects are being made possible by grants from the Stonewall Foundation, Slow Foods of Southern Arizona, and the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose District and Benjamin Plumbing Supply. To finish this project, we’re still looking for additional funding from generous supporters like you- will you help us?

Mission Garden Acequia

The Timeline Acequia is the central feature of Mission Garden, the practical demonstration of the story of water through time in the Tucson Basin. This story, water and its uses, is central to all the layers of agricultural history at Mission Garden, and is essential to the interpretation of our region’s indigenous peoples and of all the various immigrating groups who have arrived since. The story of the Timeline Gardens is incomplete without the physical presence of the acequia, the technological instrument that allowed these gardens to exist over such a long period.  The challenge of growing food crops in the Sonoran Desert is not one of water scarcity but of how creative solutions can bring water from where it is to where it is needed.

Seen as a whole, north and south portions of the canal will provide the interpretive centerpiece for education about the agricultural history of our oasis in the Sonoran Desert and the ways in which each of the multiple culture groups who cultivated in this remarkably long-lived site, brought water to their fields.  The south portion of the canal will interpret the ways the Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Yaqui, African American, and Anglo-American farmers used, delivered, and conserved our precious waters.  It is significant that the reconstructed Timeline Acequia will be located above the remains of one of the largest Hohokam canals uncovered to date in southern Arizona (6 feet deep by 10 feet wide).  Mission Garden is a nationally unique cultural asset with the rich archaeology of its “stacked” acequias representing the continuous sequence of previous culture groups.

The Timeline Acequia represents a microcosm of the ecological system of the Santa Cruz River and the Tucson Basin, as well as our history of use and abuse of the river and its waters over time.    It will reflect the formerly vibrant ecological condition of the river and its riparian vegetation, and the current importance to residents in a time of climate change.  Interpretive signage will reflect the importance of water to humans and wildlife alike, and will not overlook the spiritual significance of water to the series of cultures represented in this project.

The Mission Garden Acequia project has been funded through a generous grant from the Southwestern Foundation for Education and Historic Preservation and a funding commitment from the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners program.  FOTB is still seeking additional funders for this project, which is to begin by summer of 2018.

Adoberos Magníficos

Making adobe bricks at Mission Garden

Making adobe bricks at Mission Garden

For the past several months a small dedicated group of volunteers have gathered most Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays to participate in another work of passion: to create a small, aesthetic wall between the Mexican and Chinese Gardens made out of adobe bricks created by their own long hard work and hopefully short learning curve.

During that time they have created over 700 12” by 14” by 3.5” mud adobes.  They have used the traditional materials of sand, clay-rich soil, straw, water and the secret traditional ingredient of prickly pear juice squeezed from the pads of local cacti.

Adoberos Sam Whitthorne, somebody, Phil Hall, Steve something and Bill O'Malley [Kendall Kroesen]

Using a cement mixer and a wooden mold they learned very shortly what worked and what didn’t.  The bottom line is the harder you work the better the adobe.   That includes (among many other things) pressing each filled mold by hand to ensure the adobe has no hidden air pockets and using the correct drying method.  The adobes need to dry on their “backs” until they are stable and then dry on their long end to ensure they dry throughout.

These volunteers also poured the cement footing for the wall and cemented in a rock base from volcanic rocks identical to those found in the A Mountain quarry. The adobe wall will be put onto this rock base. (We are looking for an expert adobe layer to instruct us on the best method for doing this)

The adobe-making team (adoberos) was organized by Phil Hall and joined by William O’Malley, Gene Einfrank, Jose Gastelum, Frank Barraza,  Lynn Ketchum, Gordon Mc Donald , Brad Kindler, Jesus Garcia, Dick Zeiner and Tomas Castillo

We cannot express in words all the appreciation we feel for the work this group has contributed to Mission Garden.

Art in Mission Garden

whole painting-IMG_7606     Membrillo
Paintings by Miguel Molina

Mark Rossi and Javelinas

Mark Rossi installing javelina sculpture

Docent classes

In January docent classes started for those Mission Garden volunteers who wanted to learn more about the garden and its history, and who wanted to help communicate that information to the public. They are training to greet the public in the garden, do tours, and sit at tables or booths that we do in other locations. Twenty-one docents signed up, are attending class and learning on the job while helping with tours and visitors to the garden.

Some of these folks have been serving in roles such as this for some time. Others are new. Thank you to all of these great people for helping to increase Mission Garden’s impact on the public.

Sidney Engs in cotton docent class Gayle Hartmann cotton docent class 20180113 docent class 01