Current Projects

Project #26 - Mission San Agustín Garden

eastern base of A-Mountain, corner of Mission Rd and Mission Ln  
Under Construction  
Total Estimated Project Cost
Expenditures to Date Through 12/16/2013
Estimated date of completion as of 12/7/2011
Project Contact
The Friends of Tucson's Birthplace  

View this project on the Projects Map

Phased reconstruction of the Spanish Colonial walled garden that was part of the historic San Agustín Mission. Plantings representing several eras of Tucson agriculture, from ancient to modern are planned. Rebuilt on its original site and located today in the heart of downtown Tucson, the Mission Garden will feature heirloom plants and living Timeline Gardens, interpreting 4000 years of Tucson agriculture.

This project represents continuation of intent to provide the public with both sense-of-place and interpretation of the many layers of the history of Tucson.  
Additional Info
The Friends of Tucson's Birthplace (FOTB), a non-profit organization, was granted a 5-Year Operating Agreement by Mayor and Council of the City of Tucson and the Pima County Board of Supervisors. The 5-Year agreement was approved by both bodies the week of December 5, 2011

FOTB Website
See Garden Brochure
See NY Times Nov 12, 2012 article  
Rio Nuevo District, Private, Downtown  
Last Update

Project #26 - Status

10-Apr-15 The "Friends of Tucson's Birthplace" continue Garden activities, and in March:
-Received an Urban Forestry Grant, $10,000., to extend the Heritage Fruit Tree Orchard.
-Received a Punch Woods Endowment Grant of $5000.
to expland timeline gardens to include Mexican-era and Chinese era garden plots.
-Roofed the new ramada (immediately visited by resident roadrunner).
-saw the spring blooming of Oracle plums, blue palo verdes, hedgeghog and pin cushion cacti, cilantro, marigolds, penstemon, Phacelia, and chia.
-Growth of heirloom prickly pear; a Mexican variety used extensively for "napolitos", and donated by Bill Steen for the Mexican-era garden.
-Held a two day community service project with University High students.
12-Mar-15 • The non-profit, "Friends of Tucson's Birthplace," hosted the Salpointe High School Engineering Club members, who are working on a watering harvesting project.
•Wood was acquired for the beams for the new traditional
ramada being added to the Garden.
•Mercado Farmer's Market participation contines
•Summer planting schedule planned
•Plans have been made for a period Chinese garden
13-Feb-15 In January, Friends of Tucson's Birthplace ("Friends") continued presence at Mercado Farmer's Market, demonstrating garden produce and providing information regarding heritage crops. "Friends" also participated in Presidio Living History Day, providing garden table with crops and information, as well as providing produce to the Presidio Trust.

Groups visiting the Gardens included general public, Ironwood Tree Experience, and the Community and School Garden Program. Program presentations were made to the Patio Garden Club of Tucson, and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Salpointe Catholic High students completed service projects in the garden, and several new interns from the UofA have begun documentation of the Garden via photography and interpretation of heritage medicinal herbs. A tree propagation program was started with Manzo Elementary, and Roskruge Middle schools. Preparation for spring garden activities has begun.

Volunteers were recognized in the annual event on January 24th.

08-Jan-15 Garden activities slowed during month of December, with exception of continued growth of winter crops and continued participation in the weekly Mercado Market Thursdays.
09-Dec-14 In November, events and outreach projects included UofA Food Series, UofA Grad Center Community Service Project, Friends of Tucson's Birthplace Retreat, presentation to Patio Garden Club, Volunteer recognition event, Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca presentation. Other activities included planting agaves outside west wall, building of O'odham ramada, olive tree irrigation, post-contact and Segeseer Gardens, preparation of soil in vineyard basin, frost protection for limes, review of plans for East Entrance by Pima Co., City of Tucson, and ESA.
04-Nov-14 Harvest of grapes and figs, repotting of olives, planting of post-contact winter garden.

Held volunteer orientation.

Planned and obtained permits for east swale construction

Built compost bin and traditional ramada

Hosting tour or educational session for: Newcomers Club of Tucson, Tucson Meet Yourself, Green Valley Gardeners, Manzo Elementary, Seed Library Book Club, and Arizona Historical Society Tour

Membrillo (Quince) Festival held for neighborhood
15-Oct-14 No status provided.
09-Sep-14 Successful celebration of Tucson's Birthday, and breakfast fundraiser held.
The Tohono O'odham "60 day" seeds took one week to germinate, and is now growing well. The orchard portion of the garden is bursting with produce.
Planting of "post-contact" Tohono O'odham area of Garden, with top and side dressing completed.
A compost bin is being built, and additional irrigation is being installed.
08-Aug-14 Volunteer Project with Goodwill held; 20 participants
Work done on trinceras outside east wall, with Arizona Conservation Corps
Volunteer Seed Harvest held; figs & squash
Weeding and agave planting outside west wall
09-Jul-14 Maturation of grapes, figs, quince, pomegranates and other fruit. Garden areas have been prepared for planting monsoon crops. Members of the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace continue to build their docent program, as well as fundraising.
02-Jun-14 Friends of Tucson's Birthday held St. Ysidro Wheat Harvest Celebration in May, and have harvested winter/spring crops and collected seeds. Agave has been planted out Mission walls, and a plan for Monsoon Garden made. Additionally, a book signing of Segesser Letters took place, and Ray Thompson tree dedication was held.

Discussion with Rio Nuevo continues.
01-May-14 Friends of Tucson's Birthplace provided tour for Primavera, Holllinger students, Manzo Elementary students; a pollination field trip, and at Tucson High, provided a workshop on heritage crops.

Discussions continue with "Friends" and Rio Nuevo regarding further development of the Mission.
02-Apr-14 Volunteers working with Friends of Tucson's Birthplace continue to weed and prepare for spring/summer growth. Garden is filled with spring blooming of trees, grapevines, a variety of bushes.
03-Mar-14 Salpointe High School students completed a day of service to the Gardens, including groundskeeping. Students were informed of the area's history, with special attention and information given regarding the role of Bishop Salpointe in Tucson's development.

Manzo Elementary students attended one of the four workshops developed to assist in the students learning regarding native and introduced plants, and their area history.
A successful fundraiser was held, contributing to the acquisition of operating costs.
15-Jan-14 Winter gardens were planted. Seeds from crops have been packaged for preservation exchange. A visiting bee expert from Kenya noted that solitary bee pollinators are living in many areas of the garden; an important continuation of pollinators being supported. Rabbit proof fencing was installed, and frost protection for the lime trees was installed. The Friends of Tucson's Birthplace produced an informal fall/winter update for supporters.
02-Dec-13 The Friends of Tucson's Birthplace held a celebration of Edible Baja Arizona's new magazine edition, featuring Mission Gardens. The event was also a fund raiser.

With change in season, summer harvest has ended, fruit trees are going dormant. Winter garden plans are complete, and begun.
04-Nov-13 The time line garden is complete; summer crops were grown and harvested; produce is taken to Santa Cruz Farmers Market, held on Thursdays at the Mercado. A variety of greens, squash, melons, and corn have been harvested; the season is complete.
The Friends of Tucsons Birthplace held a neighborhood Membrillo (Quince) Fest on October 27th, for the immediate neighborhood, in which a workshop on the making of cajete de membrillo was held. Music was played by Tucson troubadour Ted Ramirez.

08-Oct-13 Gardening activities continue: historic mesquite seeds planted, a plan for olive trees has begun, and a program to propogate trees. A produce sale was held. The Friends of Tucsons Birthplace are developing interpretive materials and a list of docents for spring activities. Docent training was held.

10-Sep-13 Tohono O odham Elders visited, to plant seeds in Timeline Gardens, including heritage tepary beans, pink beans, Ha:l squash, Id: Li Bas:so squash, 60 day corn, and watermelons.

Friends of Tucsons Birthplace held special event for Tucsons Birthplace at Mercado; a fundraiser to raise funds for second half year operation.

Native Seed Search brought Seed Clipper to clean Acelgas, Mostaza, and wheat seeds from the previous winter garden; some seeds will be available to visitors.

Garden work continues, and site is open Saturdays, 8:00-noon.

Boards on swale bridge removed; silted soil removed.
01-Aug-13 Planting of a new monsoon garden; Melon de Castilla, Mayo Blusher Squash, and Watermelon, in waffle plots, and one row of cowpeas in furrows. A monsoon mix of wildflowers was also planted; all provided by Native Seed Search.

Continued work on Timeline Gardens; contouring of Early Agriculture Area.

Figs and Grapes are ripe, with pomegranates, quince, apricots, and plums ripening.

Completed excavation under swale bridge.

Hosted USDA staff, whose organization provided heritage fruit grant, and demonstrated progress on the site.
05-Jul-13 Heritage Crop plowing and planting in the Timeline Gardens, following visits and advice of Tohono Oodham elders, including Clifford Pablo, the Student Learning Farm Manager for the Tohono Oodham Community College Gardens.

Agave rock piles in Marana were viewed as part of the exploration of further development in the Timeline Garden area.

Friends of Tucsons Birthplace took part in the Dia de San Juan Festival, with the procession for the Festival beginning in the Gardens.
03-Jun-13 The Friends of Tucsons Birthplace (FOTB) received a Tucson Parks and Recreation Commission Award for activities and contributions to the community through their work in establishing the Gardens.
FOTB are working on Harvest Celebration activity. City Parks staff have cleared debris from the surrounding area, and cleared space under the small approach bridge whichs spans the north drainage.
Garden tours continue.
03-May-13 The Native Plant Society Tour was held, and weeding and mulching took place throughout garden area. Gravel movement for access made.
Garden tours continue on Saturdays.
01-Apr-13 All trees are showing new growth - apricots, plums, quince, pomegranates, and citrus. The winter garden has peaked, with peas, greens, wheat, garlic, and onions. Grapes have been pruned, in prepartion for new season.
In February and March, the Friends of Tucsons Birthplace planted 19 treees, and 12 native plants in outside wall buffer area and 37 rescued cacti and ocotillo in the Native Plants area, donated by the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society.
Graffiti was abated on outside wall by Parks and Recreation staff, and gravel moved to better accommodate deliveries into garden.
04-Mar-13 In Spanish garden area, figs, pomegranates, and quince were pruned. Installation of poles for grape arbor were completed, and work was continued on native area ramada.
04-Feb-13 Construction of grape parronal (trellis) in the grape test area has begun. A small greenhouse structure will be an experiment to see if vine cuttings can be grown in the garden. Pruning of pomegranates and quince are also underway.
04-Jan-13 December 2012 Planting of native area complete. Winter garden in, and crops are coming up.
Saturday afternoon tours are being held, with Garden being open from noon to 4:00 p.m.
A volunteer recognition and recruitment event will be held on January 19th, from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Ramada construction will resume the week of Jan. 7th.
01-Oct-12 During September the Friends of Tucsons Birthplace were notified that they will be a recipient of the 12% grant funding from the Tohono O odham Nation for the Phase 2 planting of Mission Garden, the Timeline Gardens. Plans were completed and a contractor selected for the Timeline Gardens along with the Native Plant Demonstration Area and native trees outside the west wall of the Garden. This work will start in October with planting to occur later in October and subsequent months.

A Design Workshop for Stormwater Use at Mission Garden, will be held Tuesday, October 23, 2012. The goal of this workshop, which is funded by a grant from the Arizona State Forestry Division, is to examine the potential for the beneficial use of stormwater runoff for supporting trees and other vegetation in the area in and around the historic Mission Garden.

Construction work continued on the Storage Building roof, and the gravel in the Phase 2 Planting area has been removed. A new service access off Grande/Mission Road has been provided to the south gate.
02-Jul-12 All major equipment has been installed and is operating. Testing, balancing, system integration and commissioning is underway.

1st large ramada near completion.
All trees have received mulch.
Weeds removed by Parks and Recreation Depts.
Work to begin on support building in July.
Work on 2nd phase, Native plants, to begin in fall.
21-Nov-11 On Tuesday November 22, 2011 the Friends of Tucsons Birthplace will approach the City Council to seek approval on an agreement that would allow the group to operate the site for five years. A similar request will be presented to the Pima County Board of Supevisors during the first week of December.

See the 11/21/2011 Arizona Star Article in the attachments.
01-Nov-10 The City received a $14,820 grant from the State Forestry Division to plant the orchard. Water and electric utilities are now needed for the drip irrigation system.
Working with the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace to hold a Fund Raising event to provide money for the needed utilities.
01-Feb-10 A local construction company donated $12,000 of company labor and resources to install the garden gates. This includes fabricating gate hardware currently be designed and built by a local blacksmith.

Project #26 - Pictures

01-Apr-13 Spring brings flowers to the garden.
05-Feb-13 02/04/2013 - Grape Trellis
07-Jan-13 01/07/2013 - new ramada going up.
01-Nov-12 11/01/2012 - George and Libby plant a cottonwood tree.
01-Oct-12 10/01/2012 - Working on the storage room roof.
01-Sep-12 09/01/2012 - View from A Mountain of the planted orchard.
01-Sep-12 09/01/2012 - Work concludes on the 2nd ramada, with construction of adobe inset, and laying of ocotillos and mud roof, near completion.
26-Aug-12 08/26/2012 - The Friends of Tucson's Birthplace celebrated Tucson's Birthday with a breakfast for 300 of their friends at the Mercado San Agustin. Gila, her miniature-mare Sippa, and their friend Hayden gather donations to help with the completion of Mission Garden. The Friends also gave tours of the Garden and raised over $4,000 during the event.
30-Jul-12 07/30/2012 - Happy volunteers building the second ramada.
02-Jul-12 07/02/2012 - The first fruits are doing well.
04-Jun-12 06/04/2012 - In the shade of the new ramada. Thanks to the volunteers!
04-Jun-12 06/04/2012 - the plantings are anticipating the summer rains. Thanks to the volunteers!
02-May-12 05/02/2012 - Constructing the first ramada.
02-May-12 05/02/2012 - Kino Heritage Fruit Orchard now planted.
05-Mar-12 03/05/2012 - The ADA path made of decomposed granite is progressing.
23-Feb-12 February 23, 2012 Mission Garden orchard first blossom!!! Guess who are the tree Stewards? The Hall Grandchildren!!!!!
23-Feb-12 02/23/2012 - The construction of a parking lot, a bridge, and an ADA path has begun!
05-Feb-12 02/05/2012 - Learning to plant Kino Heritage fruit trees.
05-Feb-12 02/05/2012 - Planting of the first two Kino Heritage Trees (plums).
01-Feb-12 02/01/2012 - The Garden now has Water !!!!
26-Mar-10 03/26/2010 - The donated gates are installed!!
05-Mar-10 03/05/2010 - Ocotillo fencing is up to help protect the Garden.
01-Sep-09 Planned layout of the Garden.

Project #26 - Attachments

21-Nov-11 AZ Star article on a proposal to operate the Garde This article talks about The Friends of Tucsons Birthplace plan to start by planting 130 heirloom fruit trees, including fig, quince, pomegranate and apricot, in one quadrant of the property. In order to plant and care for the trees they propose to take over operation and management of the gardens project.
14-Oct-09 Inside the Garden Timeline of planting and pictures inside the garden.
14-Oct-09 Concept Drawing Tucson Origins Heritage Park