Volunteer at Mission Garden

Volunteer at Mission Garden

We ask that you wear masks when entering our beautiful and healthy four-acre outdoor setting, where physical distancing is easy. Visit Pima County Health Department COVID-19 page for other details on staying safe. Statement on Mission Garden’s COVID-19 measures.

Unless otherwise noted, events are free with suggested $5 donation at the garden gate.

Mission Garden Open to Public
October – March, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
(April – September, Wednesday – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.)


Mission Garden Shop (open whenever the garden is open)
Our shop carries a range of books on history and gardening, Mission Garden shirts, hats, masks and a variety of other products. We now also feature fertilizer, compost and mulch.


Tours of Mission Garden
Every Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m.
This 45-minute tour covers the whole garden, with information on Tucson’s history and about gardening in the Sonoran Desert. Group size limited to 10. First come, first served. Tours for small groups and families can be arranged at other times by contacting us at 520-955-5200 or


A Desert Feast

A Desert Feast

A Desert Feast: Carolyn Niethammer Book Launch
Saturday, October 17, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Carolyn Niethammer’s new book celebrates and recounts the agricultural and culinary history that led to Tucson’s designation as the United State’s first “City of Gastronomy.” On October 17 Mission Garden celebrates the launch of A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary Heritage.

When you get your book signed, ask Carolyn questions about the 4,000-year history of agriculture in what is now Tucson and the vast culinary heritage that has resulted.

Other Tucson local food experts, growers, and food producers will be present. Visit the following tables spread throughout the garden:


Carolyn with prickly pears

Carolyn with prickly pears


  • Carolyn Niethammer book sales and signing
  • Lorien Tersey, Dreamflower Garden
  • Carlos Figueroa of Maíz Tucson
  • Iskashitaa Refugee Network
  • Ethnobotanist Martha Ames Burgess
  • Cheri’s Desert Harvest
  • Breckenridge Family Growers
  • Chilttepica
  • Archaeologist Allen Denoyer of Archaeology Southwest
  • Mission Garden’s Garden Shop

COVID-19 precautions will be in place for all events. Please wear a mask. Please stay home if you have been experiencing COVID symptoms, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of taste/smell, etc.

Trica Oshant stirs membrillo

Stirring membrillo

Quince and Corn, Halloween, and More!
October 31, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Join us for our mini-quince festival. In keeping with virus precautions we are not having a large Membrillo Fest this year but instead having a variety of activities dispersed throughout the garden. As usual, Josefina Lizárraga will be demonstrating how to make cajeta de membrillo in the event ramada. There will be activities for kids, and kids are encouraged to wear their costumes!

Carlos Figueroa will be doing his Corn-to-Tortilla demonstrations. Like the last corn demonstration, Sky Antone and Maegan Lopez, of the O’odham Nation, will be on hand to describe the traditions associated with the O’odham 60-day corn variety.

Sky Antone

Sky Antone

We will be making corn husk dolls again. Allen Denoyer, from Archaeology Southwest, will come and do a hands-on demonstration of throwing spears with spear-throwers, or atlatls. Some of our key partner organizations will be tabling in the garden with great information about what’s going on in our community. They will include Native Seeds/SEARCH and Pima County Master Naturalists.




Carlos Figueroa

Carlos Figueroa


Additional Corn-to-Tortilla Demonstrations
November 14, 10am-2pm; December 12, 10am-2pm
Carlos Figueroa of Maiz Tucson will demonstrate all the steps it takes to get from hard corn kernels to tortillas. The process involves nixtamalization, the soaking of the kernels in mineral lime to soften them and increase the nutritional value. Then it is ground wet into masa. Carlos will describe all these steps with practical examples on hand of each part of the process. (This demonstration will repeat October 17, 31, November 14 and December 12.)

The demonstration ends as he presses tortillas and puts them on the comal to cook! Carlos and Mission Garden are collaborating to introduce heirloom varieties of corn into the process and to provide Tucson with the best corn tortillas possible. Come see the process and taste the resulting tortillas! Also present will be Gretchen Crossley, teaching us all how to make corn husk dolls! These lovely and traditional dolls are made from the corn husks left after corn is harvested, with the addition of scraps of fabric. Bring the kids for this great demonstration.


The 2020 Oaxaca trip has been canceled. We have scheduled the 2021 trip:
September 28 – October 5, 2021
A 7-day tour to benefit Mission Garden. Experience Oaxaca on a cultural jouirney with Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace. Tour includes: Jardin Botanico, Monte Alban, Teotitlan del Valle, Cuajimoloyas nature reserve, Mitla, Tlacolula, Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, El Tule, local markets, carving and weaving workshops, art exhibitions, artisanal mescal palenque. Trip includes trasportation (including air fare), lodging, breakfasts and lunches, 3 dinners, expert guides. Cost: $3,800/person. Single supplement $300. Reserve your spot by contacting Dena Cowan at


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


or (520) 955-5200