Harvest Wheat and Celebrate Tucson's Agricultural Heritage at the Mission Garden's San Ysidro Festival

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Connect to Tucson's past with this unique harvest and farming celebration. - SLEEPY CLAUS/ FLICKR
  • Sleepy Claus/ Flickr
  • Connect to Tucson's past with this unique harvest and farming celebration.

By now it’s clear that food isn’t just about restaurants and dining out, but has grown to be a movement that focuses ever more on local farms and farmers and the traditions of food in any given region. After all, Tucson wouldn’t have won its illustrious UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation without the region’s rich agricultural history paired with modern strides to not only revive it, but make it accessible and inclusive to those in the community.

One of the organizations at the forefront of that very effort in town is the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace and their heritage crop efforts at the Mission Garden. That’s why local food fanatics should head to the garden on Saturday, May 14 for the 2016 Dia de San Ysidro festival.

The event, which aims to celebrate traditional farming in Tucson by highlighting Old World and indigenous food traditions, will include a procession from Tucson Origins Heritage Park to the garden, performances from Mariachi Milagro and the Desert Indian Dancers from San Xavier, a Native American Four Directions Blessing, a presentation on water saints and acequias by M. Brescia (PhD) and a Pozole de Trigo tasting. Attendees can also take part in a community wheat harvest where you can thresh and winnow alongside members of Presidio San Agustin.

The celebration has roots in Arizona history, and the organization shows it off with an 120-year-old excerpt from the Arizona Weekly Citizen from May 19, 1894:

“All honor was shown today to San Ysidro Labrador…San Ysidro is the rural saint, the patron of the fields and crops. The image was carried today about the fields below town, with a gay procession following…At every house refreshments are on hand, and are served. A feature is usually an olla of teswin, a light wine made of corn. No other intoxicants are permitted…The first of the crop of each field was promised to the patron saint. The Chinese gardeners have come to have due regard for this annual festival, and were among the heavy contributors, some of them giving money.”

The cultural festival begins at 9 a.m. and is open to the public. While the event is free, a $5 donation is requested per person. For more information, visit the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace website.

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