Harvest, Plant, and Celebrate Native Bean Tree (including mesquite) Abundance Before the Rains—Desert Harvesters is organizing events on two dates, June 19 and 22 (the peak of our native bean trees’ harvest season) to help people dramatically enhance the quality of their harvests, what they make with them, and how to better rhyme with the Sonoran Desert’s annual cycles in a way that enhances our shared home and biome.
Toward that aim, we are also teaming up with local culinary businesses to increase the offerings of native foods in their cuisine, and the growing of some of these native food plants within water-harvesting earthworks beside their buildings.
First off, why is Desert Harvesters shifting from a November fiesta to now—the hottest, driest time of summer?!
Many of our most amazing native food plants are pumping out incredible fruit, seed, and bounty to be all ready to germinate into growing abundance when the first rains fall (San Juan’s Day, June 24th – is the traditional first day of summer rains). So to better harvest, plant, and live with this natural process, come to the following:
Two Events on Thursday, June 19, 2014
Hosted at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market
100 S. Avenida del Convento West of I-10 at Congress and Grande, Tucson, AZ
1. Guided Harvests and Plantings
5pm harvest on foot
6pm harvest by bicycle
Led by Desert Harvesters including Amy Valdés Schwemm and Brad Lancaster
$5 to $10 per person (sliding scale)
These hands-on harvest tours show you how to:
• Identify and sample the best-tasting mesquite trees
(Every tree is different, but some varieties are consistently much better than others. Taste the difference, and you’ll only settle for the best). We will also likely harvest from desert ironwood and palo verde.
• How to 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 http://www.ediblebajaarizona.com/calling-all-mesquiteros/ for more on why pre-rain harvests are the traditional practice, and so important.
• Use cool tricks such as the harvest cane.
• How and when to plant the best bean tree (and other native perennial food plants) seed in a way that best ensures the growth of a vibrant, multi-beneficial tree with tasty and prolific harvests passively irrigated only with free on-site waters.
Everyone is strongly encouraged to bring sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses), a reusable water bottle, and something to carry their harvested mesquite pods in, such as a 5-gallon bucket with a handle, a pillow case, a cloth grocery bag, or better yet—a harvest bag.
Iskashitaa, an organization that helps resettled refugees integrate into the Tucson community, will be offering their beautiful hand-made harvest bags at a special price for the event, in addition to fresh squeezed juices from fruit they’ve gleaned to help mesquite harvesters stay cool and hydrated. And there will also be AravaipaHeirlooms’ prickly pear popsicles and native chiltepine-infused cold brews from Exo Roast Co.
2. Bean Tree Processing Demonstrations
Before and/or after the Guided Harvests and Plantings
4pm to 7pm
Taught by Barbara Rose of Bean Tree Farm (see their website for more awesome workshops)
These demonstrations by a desert foods farmer/fermenter/cook show you how to:
• Turn 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.
• Native foods such as mesquite flour; cactus fruit popsicles, drinks, and syrup; and cholla buds will be available for sale; along with seeds and seedlings of the best-tasting native bean trees and chiltepines, throughout the market
Two Additional Events on Sunday, June 22, 2014
403 N. 6th Ave., NW corner of 6th Avenue and 7th Street, Tucson, AZ
3. Pre-Monsoon Mesquite Milling
Sunday, June 22, (in the event of rain the milling will be moved to the following Sunday, June 29)
6am to 9am (to beat the summer heat)
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 more common in post-rain harvests.
See here www.ediblebajaarizona.com/calling-all-mesquiteros/ for more on why pre-rain harvests are the traditional practice, and so important.
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 (a bargain considering that the flour usually sells for $14 to $20 per pound). Pods may be left after inspection and prepayment in sealed food-grade containers (preferably 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids) with owner’s name and phone number. Flour will be ready within a week and must be picked up. No refunds.
See www.desertharvesters.org/how-we-run-mesquite-millings for more.
We will also have:
• A native wild foods demonstration – highlighting what’s in harvest season now;
• Exo’s mesquite-, mole-, and chiltepin-infused coffees,
• Mesquite baked goods and cactus fruit popsicles
• Sale of seeds and seedlings of the best-tasting native bean trees and chiltepines — so you can plant yours in time for the rains.
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 slows the body’s intake of sugars. Copies of the Eat Mesquite!cookbook will be available for purchase for those unfamiliar with how to use mesquite flour or those looking to expand its uses.
4. Celebrate the Harvest and Coming Rains with Cool Local Brews (that help fund our efforts)
Harvesters’ Happy Hours
Come join fellow harvesters in fermented merriment. Tap & Bottle will have great local brews on-hand, some infused with locally-sourced native ingredients. And they will donate a percentage of all the sales to Desert Harvesters.
Learn more by visiting us online at: