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. – noon
(October – March, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
$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. (Canceled for May 18, continues May 25)
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, 7 – 9 a.m. (No walk in July 2019, resumes in August)

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, 8 – 10 a.m. (Program suspended for summer; resumes in September)
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. (Program suspended for summer 2019–resumes in September)

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.


May 18, 2019, 8 a.m. – noon
San Ysidro Festival
Join us to bring back to life the traditional and historic San Ysidro wheat harvest festival in Tucson. Join the procession, enjoy the music, and help us harvest, thresh, winnow, and mill white Sonora wheat, one of the first varities of wheat brought to the New World. Sample the feast dish for this traditional event, pozole de trigo. Bring your friends to this family-friendly event. Free!
8:30 a.m. Procession
9:00 a.m. Tohono O’odham four directions blessing by San Xavier District Chairman Austin Nunez
9:30 a.m. Lion Dancers from the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center
10:00 a.m. Music by Gertie and the T.O. Boyz, sponsored by the Pima County Public Library–Nuestras Raices and Many Nations teams
11:00 a.m. Presentation on Sonoran wheat culture by Jesus Garcia from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Event Ramada)
Throughout the morning:
* Traditional dance performances by Santa Rosa Basket Dancers
* Wheat harvest with traditional hand-help tools, threshing by Amy Star’s specially trained horses, and winnowing with traditional tools
* Visitors can try their hand at milling wheat with the old millstone (tahona)
* Tasting of Sonoran pozole de trigo (pozole soup with wheat instead of hominy!)

UA Center for Regional Food Studies
Barrio Bread
Menlo Park Neighborhood Association
Pima County Public Library – Nuestras Raices and Many Nations teams)
Raul Ramirez

The Architecture Company


Sunday May 19, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Special Don Guerra Bread Class
THIS CLASS IS SOLD OUT. Don Guerra of Barrio Bread will guide participants through the basics of bread baking fermentation and the use of local wheats. The five hour session will introduce participants to the anatomy of the wheat plant and grinding of wheat berries into flour. Then participants will explore mixing, kneading, and baking the bread in a cast iron pot to produce a crusty and flavorful loaf. Part discussion and part hands on, this class will have participants baking and sharing their new bread skills with friends and family. (Limited to 20 participants). Cost is $155 with proceeds being donated to Mission Garden. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Sign-up link here.

Saturday June 15, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Bat Night at Mission Garden
No, not baseball bats. Flying bats! After we all go home from Mission Garden, bats take over! Bat expert Debbie Buecher has identified at least five species of bats that are using Mission Garden, either to catch insects or to drink from our new acequia (canal). On June 15 we will have Mission Garden’s first Bat Night. There will be a presentation by Debbie Buecher, including live animals! Then Debbie will get out her night-vision goggles and bat detector and we’ll look and listen for bats using the garden and the acequia. Mission Garden will open at 6:30 p.m. so you can enjoy the garden in the last of the daylight, then the bat program will begin at 7:30 p.m. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by adults at all times for nighttime safety and to keep noise down so we don’t scare the bats. Please join us! Event free (donations encouraged). Bring a flashlight!

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).