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  • County-owned living museum literally bearing fruit

    Mar 07, 2013 | Read More News
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    A four-acre living agricultural museum on Tucson’s west side has the potential to boost ecological and cultural Fruittourism on a site that has the longest known history of cultivation in the country.

    The nonprofit Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace agreed in late 2011 to develop and operate Mission Garden on a site purchased with 1997 Pima County bond funds designed to preserve historic sites and open space. The nonprofit, which cites archaeological evidence indicating the site has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years, has set a goal of restoring to the base of A Mountain a historically authentic orchard and gardens that were part of the historic San Agustin Mission, including heritage trees dating back to the time of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino.

    In the first year as developers and operators of Mission Garden, the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace have:

    • Planted 119 Kino Heritage Fruit Trees, including pomegranate, quince, fig, apricot and plum, which were gathered from around the southwestern United States and throughout Mexico. Some have already borne fruit.
    • Established winter crops using native plants and relying on methods used by Native Americans on the site for thousands of years.
    • Started an experimental vineyard using several types of heritage grape vines that will ultimately provide training in historic growing and pruning methods.
    • Constructed two historic-style structures: a mesquite ramada similar to those built by Native Americans and a mission-era ramada similar to those built by Spanish missionaries.
    • Raised more than $268,000 through donations, grants and special events.

    Friends’ Co-Chairman Roger Pfeuffer said that aside from the potential to tap into ecological, biological, historical, archaeological and spiritual tourism, Mission Garden will serve as an important educational tool for  the community, not only illuminating our unique history, but also teaching a variety of planting, pruning and propagation methods.

    The project will develop in several phases, but the group hopes to finish planting by 2016.

    The Garden is open to tours on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 946 W. Mission Lane.For more information, please visit http://www.tucsonsbirthplace.org/.