Tucson Audubon Society

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Home What We Do Education Program Mason Center Harvest Festival & Milling

Harvest Festival and Mesquite Milling


Next Festival will be in early November 2014 | 8am-2pm
Tucson Audubon's Mason Center | 3835 W Hardy Rd

Festival entry is free | There is a fee to mill your mesquite into flour

This event gathers our community to celebrate sustainable living and the edible bounties of the Sonoran Desert. Through the choices we make about the food we eat and the way we live, we can leave a smaller ecological footprint on our land and create a healthier, more sustainable Tucson for birds, other wildlife and people.

  • Tours of the Mason Center property running throughout the day will include bird watching and phenology, net-zero energy building upgrades and other sustainability features.
  • Explore the Mason Center, a demonstration of sustainable living in the Sonoran Desert including techniques such as rainwater harvesting, green construction, composting toilets and more. Photovoltaics, insulation and other upgrades have allowed the main building to be converted into a net-zero energy building—producing as much energy as it uses on an annual basis.
  • Get your mesquite pods milled into delicious, gluten-free mesquite flour. See mesquite milling details below.
  • Bring the kids for face painting, bird feeder building, and more hands-on activities.
  • Grab some snacks from Food Trucks and vendors  

  • Many local organizations will be on-site to answer your sustainability questions, sell gifts, and give demonstrations and presentations. (In 2013 we had Arizona Native Plant Society, Bean Tree Farm, GeoInnovations, Edible Baja Arizona, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Jay & Carol Cole, National Phenology Network, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Pima Association of Governments’ Sustainable Environment Program, Pima Department of Environmental Quality, chiltepin sales by Charles DeConcini, Tortolita Middle School, Tucson Audubon’s Nature Shops, Desert Harvesters and more.)

Mesquite Milling Details Mesquite_milling

Mesquite pods are best picked dry from trees before summer rains (typically in June). More information about harvesting and preparing mesquite pods for milling, and about other desert foods is at www.desertharvesters.org.
By the festival milling date, pods must be:
  • So dry they snap rather than bend
  • Clean—no dirt, gravel, twigs, etc.
  • Free of dark mold spots or other growths

Bringing pods in 5-gallon buckets may expedite processing. You may want to bring clean receptacles for the flour like large ziplock bags or large Tupperware containers. On average milled flour weighs 60 to 75% of the pod weight.
The fee to mill your mesquite pods follows the Desert Harvesters pricing structure of $3 per gallon of whole pods, up to 15 gallons.

For more information on safe harvesting and processing of mesquite pods, see the page on mesquite at www.desertharvesters.org and visit www.ediblebajaarizona.com/?cat=2 scroll down to the article "Calling all Mesquiteros."



This event is part of the Season of Sustainability



Example Event Schedule from 2013 Festival: Guided tours and brief presentations and demonstrations through the day

8am Event opens | Guided Tour: Birdwatching & phenology along the Mason Center trail

9am | Guided Tour: Net-zero Energy Upgrades at the Mason Center
Presentations include the Tucson Phenology trail, using nest boxes for southeast Arizona hole-nesting bird species, and learning how to compost organically.

10am | Guided Tour: Rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, and other sustainability features of the Mason Center
Presentations include Bean Tree Farm, Native Seeds/SEARCH, and Arizona Native Plant Society

11am | Guided Tour: Net-zero Energy Upgrades at the Mason Center
Presentations include aquaponics and school gardens at Tortolita Middle School

12pm | Guided Tour: Rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, and other sustainability features of the Mason Center
Presentations include Pima County Department of Environmental Quality and Friends of Ironwood Forest




Tucson Audubon's Mason Center
3835 W. Hardy
Tucson, AZ 85742 (See map)

Tucson Audubon's Mason Center is on the southwest corner of the intersection of Thornydale Road and W Hardy Road. Entry is the first driveway on the south side of Hardy Road. Look for a gray driveway and a chain that crosses driveway when we are not present. Additional parking is available along Hardy Rd. Please see map.