"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." ~ Alfred Austin
I love old cultures and the deep roots which enhance the tapestry of our life. I’ve recently discovered a hidden gem in Tucson, Mission Garden; one of the beautiful projects within the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace. Their mission is to preserve and revive the region’s rich cultural heritage; and they have certainly been living up to their mission in heartwarming ways.
The area surrounding Sentinel Peak (‘A’ Mountain), where Mission Garden sits, is one of the longest known areas of continuous cultivation in the United States. Including the oldest known canal-irrigated agriculture in the United States (starting at least 3,500 years ago) and stewarded by the Tohono O’odham people. I find this quite amazing!
And yet, the land on which Mission Garden sits went fallow for a period of time. It reminds me of the full circle of life; birth to death and then rebirth. And the rebirth that is taking place is an understatement.
Mission Garden is not only a vibrant and beautiful garden, cultivated and nurtured by some amazing volunteers; the garden shares its rich heritage with others through festivals to celebrate the ripening of different crops.
Spring has blossomed forth with traditional corn and agave, grown and harvested as the original inhabitants of this land have done for thousands of years. I had the opportunity last week to experience the San Ysidro Festival, where the wheat harvest was being celebrated, and both the wheat and vines were blessed and honored. It was beautiful to see the traditional way wheat was harvested, threshed and winnowed and then finally ground into flour. All of these festivals and offerings feed the Mission’s intention, to understand the many eras of 4,100 years of agricultural and culinary history.
What I found was a beautiful honoring of the patron of laborers and farmers - San Ysidro.
It felt like a coming together of the Heart of the Earth and giving thanks to God and Mother Earth for the amazing bounty, which came together through many hands and hours of cultivation and nurturing of the wheat, which so sustained past inhabitants of the land, and continues to do so today.
When you understand the time and patience it took to cultivate and nurture the growing seed into plants, and then to harvest the beautiful wheat, you gain a greater appreciation of where our food comes from, and the amazing effort which goes into bringing the wheat from seed to table.