You know those long yellow and green pods that fall off of your mesquite tree? They’re edible.
If you’re into local foods, and I mean native local foods, it’s highly likely you’ve experimented with or heard about mesquite. It’s naturally high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, as well as the amino acid lysine, although the plant itself can be a nuisance. Frustrating ranchers for centuries for its ability to displace native grasses due to its long taproot, some varieties grow thick thorns four inches long, and sometimes longer.
But, alas, this is not a botany class. However, if you do want to learn more about mesquite or put those pesky pods to good use, this is the time to do it. A much higher than usual number of mesquite related events are taking place throughout June. These include informational events to help you learn what, how, and when to harvest, as well as milling events where you can bring your buckets of pods to be milled into flour.
Desert Harvesters Summer 2014 Mesquite Events
Desert Harvesters is a Tucson based grassroots non-profit that aims to inform, educate, and demonstrate on all aspects of indigenous, food-bearing shade-trees. At least, that’s the pared down version. You’ll want to check out the Desert Harvesters website to get a better sense of what they do.
Guided Harvests & Plantings
This event take place at the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market, which, in and of itself, is a great reason to make it to the Mercado san Agustín at 100 S. Avenida del Convento. Cost is on a sliding scale from $5 to $10.
- When: June 19th at 5pm for walking harvest, 6pm for harvest by bike
- What: Hands on harvest tours
- Why you should go: How to identify the best tasting trees; how to harvest safely, ethically, and responsibly; how to correctly plant
- More information: Guided Harvests & Plantings Tour Event Page
Bean Tree Processing Demonstrations
This event take place at the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market at Mercado san Agustín located at 100 S. Avenida del Convento. No charge.
- When: June 19th from 4pm to 7pm (before and after Guided Harvest & Plantings)
- What: Native bean tree processing demonstrations
- Why you should go: Learn about turning your newly milled, native, local flours into delicious dishes
- More information: Bean Tree Processing Event Page
Pre-Monsoon Mesquite Milling
This event, hosted by and at Exo Roast, an excellent third-wave coffee shop, is to encourage people to mill their mesquite prior to any major rains. This reduces the chance for any toxic mold, insect predation, and results in a higher quality harvest. Cost is $3 per gallon of pods, with a minimum of $10.
- When: Sunday, June 22nd from 6-9am
- What: Mesquite pod milling
- Why you should go: Mill your mesquite for cheap, native wild foods demonstration, mesquite, mole, and chiltepin-infused coffees from Exo, various mesquite baked goods
- More information: Pre-Monsoon Mesquite Milling Event Page
Harvesters’ Happy Hour
Hosted by Tap & Bottle, a portion of sales will go to Desert Harvesters.
- When: Sunday, June 22nd (Time TBA)
- What: Harvest celebration and Desert Harvester benefit
- Why you should go: Local brews infused with locally sourced ingredients
- More information: Harvesters’ Happy Hour event page
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture Events
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture’s (BASA) goal is to “help create and expand the sustainable food systems in our region, promoting the health and well-being of the natural world and the people who live here.”
New Agricultural Traditions for an Ancient Food Mesquite Workshop
If you really want to get down and dirty with mesquite, this all day workshop will be the place to do it.
- When: Friday, June 13th from 8:30am – 4pm
- What: All day mesquite workshop
- Why you should go: Learn about mesquite history, production, harvesting, eat lunch, and watch demonstrations
- More information: New Agricultural Traditions for an Ancient Food Mesquite Workshop Event Page