Mission Garden: Friends of Tucson's Birthplace
946 W Mission Ln, Tucson, AZ 85745

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May 20 2023


8:00 am - 12:00 pm

San Ysidro Festival

Since wheat was adopted as a valued crop here in the 18th Century, it has been harvested on Saint Isidore’s Day. This day was an opportunity to remember San Ysidro–the patron of laborers and farmers–and to harvest the wheat.

The day will begin with a traditional procession featuring San Ysidro, starting at the garden’s front gate. Arriving at the threshing ground there will be blessings by a Catholic deacon and by Austin Nuñez, Chairman of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Mission Garden founding board member Tomás Castillo will explain why we celebrate the San Ysidro Festival every year. Mission Garden’s Curator of Collections Dena Cowan and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Education Specialist Jesús García will describe the wheat tradition of our region as the harvest gets started.
Our White Sonora Wheat field (the traditional wheat of our region) will be harvested and the wheat threshed, winnowed and milled into flour. Our volunteers will do this all with sickles, baskets, our tahona (mill), and other traditional tools. And there will be a horse helping with the threshing! This is all consistent with our mission, to recreate, and teach about, traditional agriculture of many eras of our 4,100-year agricultural and culinary history.
Costumed volunteers from the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum will participate in the harvest and you’ll be able to learn more about the presidio at their information table.
Of course, any celebration calls for a feast. So, on this day we will feed visitors the traditional food for this festival, pozole de trigo. This soup contains wheat grains among many other hearty ingredients. As Mission Garden continues to mature we hope to feed people, just as San Ysidro did near Madrid in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Come and experience this taste of history! Fresh flour tortillas and bolillo bread roles will be available too.
At the festival we will have a limited number of bread loaves for sale from Barrio Bread. This scrumptious bread, made by our board member Don Guerra, contains heirloom White Sonora Wheat grown last year at the garden! You can’t get more authentic than that! This is another great opportunity to “taste history”!
Because this is the third Saturday of the month, our monthly program of Traditional O’odham Agriculture will be happening as well. Representatives of Mission Garden and of Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture will be discussing their wheat traditions as well. From the time of the introduction of wheat in this region it has been an important part of agricultural traditions of many agricultural peoples in the Tucson area.
Other festival participants will include Tucson Chocolate, Iskashitaa Refugee Network, and others.
We especially thank Don Guerra of Barrio Bread, the Presidio del Tucson Museum, and Beth Mendivil of the Spanish Barb Horse Association for their assistance in this event.
The festival is free. Your monetary gifts are appreciated.

7:30amProcession assembles at Mission Garden’s front gate
7:45am Garden gate opens and event begins
8:30am Blessing in Era
8:45am Thomas Castillo speaks on “Why we do the San Ysidro Festival” and Dena Cowan and Jesús García introduce and describe the wheat harvest.
9:00amDemonstrations/Harvesting begins on the threshing ground
10:00amPosole de trigo (traditional festival soup) service begins
11:00amTohono O’odham Dancers
12:00pm Event concludes

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