[no title] (Desert Harvesters: Appreciating the Native Foods of the Southwest)

For immediate release:

Plant, Harvest, Mill, and Celebrate Wild Abundance Before the Rains

Desert Harvesters is co-organizing events to plant, harvest, mill, and celebrate local wild foods in the month of June—the peak of our native bean trees’ harvest season.

These events will give you the opportunity to taste and enjoy delicious desert wild foods; learn how to significantly elevate the quality and flavor of your harvests; and enable you to align more closely with the Sonoran Desert’s seasonal cycles in a way that enhances our shared home and biome.

Toward that aim, we are teaming up with local culinary businesses to increase both the offerings of native wild foods in their cuisine, and the growing of some of these native food plants within water-harvesting earthworks next to their buildings and streets.

But why is Desert Harvesters doing this during the hottest, driest time of summer?

In June, many of our essential native wild food plants will be in the process of pumping out incredible fruit, seed, and bounty in preparation for the first summer rains, which typically begin sometime between June 24—Día de San Juan—and July 4. This way, when the rains come, they will enable the seeds to germinate and grow abundantly—especially where the rain is planted, or harvested, with the seed. So to better eat and live with this natural process, come to the following:

  1. Celebration of Place: A Desert Harvesters Evening of Story, Food, Drink, and Music
    Tuesday, June 9, 2015
    5–10 pm
    Hosted at La Cocina in Tucson, AZ
  1. Desert Harvesters Guided Native Food-Tree Harvest Tours
    Thursday, June 18, 2015
    5 pm & 6 pm
    Hosted at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market in Tucson, AZ, in partnership with the Community Food Bank
  1. 13th Annual Desert Harvesters Mesquite Milling & Wild Foods Fiesta
    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    4–7 pm
    Hosted at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market in Tucson, AZ, in partnership with the Community Food Bank
  1. Desert Harvesters Happy Hour
    Friday, June 26, 2015
    5–8 pm
    Hosted at Tap & Bottle in Tucson, AZ

Click links above or read below for more info

1. Celebration of Place: A Desert Harvesters Evening of Story, Food, Drink, and Music

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5–10 pm

Hosted at La Cocina

201 N. Court Ave, Tucson, AZ

5–10 pm: Live music along with drinks and dinner featuring locally grown and harvested native wild food ingredients. Come try a margarita made with locally harvested prickly pear juice!

7:30 to 8:15 pm: Desert Harvesters: Planting & Harvesting Rain, Wild Foods, and Place-Based Celebration, presented by Brad Lancaster. This entertaining story tells how Desert Harvesters and other individuals and organizations have cultivated stronger ties to wild food production, habitat, and health to regenerate ourselves, our community, and our shared watershed and ecosystem—and how you too can be a dynamic part of it all.

As part of La Cocina’s Tuesdays for Tucson tradition, 10% of all proceeds from the evening’s food and drink sales will be donated to Desert Harvesters. Thanks!

2. Desert Harvesters Guided Native Food-Tree Harvest Tours

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hosted at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market in partnership with the Community Food Bank

100 S. Avenida del Convento West of I-10 at Congress and Grande, Tucson, AZ

4:30 pm: Required sign up for walking harvest (tour begins at 5 pm)
5:30 pm: Required sign up for
biking harvest (tour begins at 6 pm)

Led by Desert Harvesters including Amy Valdés Schwemm and Brad Lancaster

$5 to $10 per person (sliding scale)

These short, easy-paced hands-on harvest tours show you how to:

  • Identify and sample from the mesquite trees with the best-tasting pods

Every tree is different, but some varieties taste consistently much better than others. Taste the difference, and you’ll settle for only the best. We will also likely harvest from desert ironwood, canyon hackberry, and palo verde.

  • Harvest safely, ethically, and responsibly

Harvesting pre-rains is the best practice to avoid invisible toxic mold; harvesting from the tree avoids fecal contamination of ground harvests, etc. See here for more on why pre-rain harvests are an important traditional practice.

  • Use cool tools such as the harvest hoe.
  • Plant seeds at the best time for the best bean trees (and other native perennial food plants), and how to plant water in a way that ensures the growth of a vibrant, multi-beneficial tree with tasty and prolific harvests irrigated passively with only free on-site waters. These trees can be the basis for edible forest guilds!

Everyone is strongly encouraged to bring sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses), and a reusable water bottle.

In addition, Barbara Rose of Bean Tree Farm will be offering Bean Tree Processing Demonstrations from 4–7 pm. These demonstrations by a desert-foods farmer/fermenter/cook will show you how to process milled or whole desert ironwood seeds, palo verde seeds, and mesquite pods into numerous tasty dishes ranging from sprouts to edamame to desert peanuts to atole to sauces and beyond.

(These demonstrations are part of the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market’s ongoing Desert Harvest series to teach the public how to identify, process, and use native foods.)

Other tasty & useful features of the event include:

  • The official launch of Exo Roast Companys new Exo Mesquite Cold Brew coffee drink, made with locally sourced mesquite pods, as well as Exo Chiltepin Cold Brew which features Sonoran-grown chiltepin peppers, dark chocolate, and cream—both will be available for sample and sale
  • Demonstration of cargo bicycles for harvesting set up by Transit Cycles

3. 13th Annual Desert Harvesters Mesquite Milling & Wild Foods Fiesta

Thursday, June 25, 2015
(in the unlikely event of heavy rain the milling may be postponed to the following Thursday, July 2)

4–7 pm

Hosted at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market in partnership with the Community Food Bank

100 S. Avenida del Convento West of I-10 at Congress and Grande, Tucson, AZ

Mesquite (and carob) pods will be milled BEFORE THE SUMMER RAINS to encourage harvesting before the rains (as recommended by the Mesquite Harvest Working Group) for a higher-quality harvest, with less insect predation, and far less potential for invisible molds than are more common in post-rain harvests.

See here for more on why pre-rain harvests are an important traditional practice.

About the Milling: Bring Your Own Pods!

Pods for milling must be clean; dry; and free of mold/fungus, stones, leaves, and other debris.

Cost: $3/gallon of whole pods, with a minimum of $10.

1 gallon of whole mesquite pods mills into one pound of flour, so the price averages $3 per pound of flour—this is a bargain considering that the flour usually sells for $14 to $20 per pound. After pod inspection and prepayment, you may leave your pods in sealed food-grade containers (preferably 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids) with owner’s name and phone number written clearly on each container. Flour will be ready within a week and must be picked up. No refunds. See the How We Run Mesquite Millings page of our website for more.

Mesquite flour is a naturally sweet, nutritious, and delicious addition to recipes for cakes, cookies, pizza, bread, tortillas, granola, dog biscuits—you name it! And like many other native foods, gluten-free mesquite is great for people with hypoglycemia and diabetes as it regulates blood glucose levels.

Many of our partners who participated in the June 18 market will return once again with their unique wild-foods offerings at the Fiesta:

  • Barbara Rose of Bean Tree Farm will be offering Bean Tree Processing Demonstrations from 4–7 pm. Barbara, a desert-foods farmer/fermenter/cook, will show you how to process milled or whole desert ironwood seeds, palo verde seeds, and mesquite pods into numerous tasty dishes ranging from sprouts to edamame to desert peanuts to atole to sauces and beyond. (These demonstrations are part of the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market’s ongoing Desert Harvest series to teach the public how to identify, process, and use native foods.)
  • A reprised official launch of Exo Roast Companys new Exo Mesquite Cold Brew coffee drink, as well as Exo Chiltepin Cold Brew which features Sonoran-grown chiltepin peppers, dark chocolate, and cream—both will be available for sample and sale

 

4. Desert Harvesters Happy Hour

Friday, June 26, 2015
5–8 pm

Tap & Bottle

403 N 6th Ave #135, Tucson, AZ

Celebrate the Harvest and Coming Rains with Cool Local Brews (and help fund our efforts)!

Tap & Bottle will have great regional brews on-hand, some infused with locally sourced native wild ingredients. And Tap & Bottle will donate a percentage of all happy-hour sales to Desert Harvesters! Plus, a local food truck will also be on site with delicious offerings, some including native wild ingredients.

Become a Desert Harvesters mesquite miller, volunteer, and/or help in the expansion of our wild foods cookbook

Come to our two training workshops:

See our current volunteer opportunities here and fill out our volunteer recruitment form here.

For more info visit:  www.DesertHarvesters.org or email volunteer@DesertHarvesters.org


Desert Harvesters June Festivities 2015 Press Release (view on Google Drive)