Volunteer at Mission Garden

Volunteer at Mission Garden

See events taking place at Presidio de Tucson, our partner organization

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.


October – March, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
(April – September, Wednesday – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.)


Our shop carries shirts, hats, masks, books on history and gardening, and a variety of other products. We now also feature fertilizer, compost and mulch. A small range of trees, native shrubs and garden vegetable plants are available–this will be increased in the near future. Watch for special plant sales.


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

Monthly Mission Garden Bird Walk
Every Second Thursday at 8 a.m. (next is November 12)

Join one of our Mission Garden birders for a walk around the garden finding birds that probably have specialized in living in gardens on the Santa Cruz River floodplain for thousands of years. Great for beginning and intermediate birders.

Mindfulness class seating

Mindfulness class physically-distanced seating

Jennifer Knochel Mindfulness and Meditation Sessions
Every Tuesday at 9 a.m. starting October 27

Learn techniques for stress reduction in these tense times through mindfulness and meditation with expert and teacher Jennifer Knochel. Jennifer is a certified mindfulness facilitator through the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and is presently enrolled in an Eco-chaplaincy program. Eco-chaplains work to establish healthy, compassionate, and mutually supportive relationships with the natural world as a resource to meet contemporary environmental, social, and health crises with wisdom and compassion. Her teachings strive to include all people; presenting mindfulness practices in a secular/non-religious way.

This class taught on a donation basis. It is held in our ramada with physically-distanced seating. Masks are required in the garden. The garden is not open on Tuesdays except for this class, so please arrive promptly at 9 a.m. so that we can keep the gate closed and the garden secure during the class.

Trica Oshant stirs membrillo

Stirring membrillo

Quince and Corn, Halloween, and More–Our Mini-Membrillo Fest!
October 31, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

This event has a variety of wonderful events spread out around our large, four-acre garden over four hours.

Mini-Membrillo Fest
This year’s quince festival includes Josefina Lizárraga demonstrating how to make cajeta de membrillo (sweet quince paste) in the event ramada. Quince is an apple-like fruit that is typically not eaten fresh but sweetened and made into preserves. One favorite form of these preserves is cajeta de membrillo, a sweet quince paste formed into bars. Come watch and see how it’s done!

Special Activities for Kids, and we introduce our Garden Explorer Bookworm Path!
With this event we are rolling out our Garden Explorer Bookworm Path. Explore the garden to find 12 stations with children’s books about the garden and the natural world. Each station will have examples of what kids are reading in the books. For this event, some of these stations will also have wildflower seed that children can collect on their way around the garden. When they have collected the seed they can learn to make seed balls at a station with Elise Gornish. Seed balls are small balls of clay containing wildflower seed. Throw them into your garden or an empty field and when it rains the clay dissolves and the seeds can germinate. In addition we will again have an area of the garden where children (and adults) can learn to make cornhusk dolls with Gretchen Crossley.

Sky Antone

Sky Antone talks about corn

Corn Demonstration and Discussion of O’odham Corn Traditions
Sky Antone and Maegan Lopez, of the Tohono O’odham Nation, will be on hand to describe the traditions associated with the O’odham 60-day corn variety. Carlos Figueroa of Maiz Tucson will be demonstrating the steps from corn seed to tortilla. He’ll show how he transforms Mission Garden-grown O’odham 60-day corn into tortillas before your eyes–and, you can taste the tortillas!

Hands-on Archaeology
Allen Denoyer, from Archaeology Southwest, will do a hands-on demonstration of throwing spears with spear-throwers, or atlatls. He will also be able to tell you about the reproduction Native American pit house in our Youth Garden.

Throwing spears with Atlatls

Throwing spears with atlatls

Partner Tables
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, Pima County Master Naturalists, Watershed Management Group, and more.

COVID-19 Safety
Precautions will be in place for this events. Demonstrations, exhibits and information tables will be spread out over four acres and you can visit them over four hours–both factors that reduce crowding. Still, please wear a mask and maintain social distance. Please stay home if you have been experiencing COVID symptoms, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of taste/smell, etc.

Carlos Figueroa

Carlos Figueroa of Maiz Tucson

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