DESERT HARVESTERS: 14th ANNUAL MESQUITE MILLING & WILD FOODS & DRINK FIESTA (Pre-Monsoon) at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market, June 23, 2016 — Tucson AZ

Date: Thursday, June 23, 2016
Time: 4–7 pm

Venue: Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market @ the Mercado San Agustín
(Market is hosted by the Community Food Bank)
Address: 100 S Avenida del Convento | Tucson, Arizona

Once again, we’re excited about this year’s event, timed to rhyme with the Sonoran Desert’s natural cycles, and hosted in conjunction with the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market—and we’d love to get some more volunteers to add to the greatness! Can you help out? All those volunteering the whole event get a free Desert Harvesters t-shirt and community appreciation. If you can help please let us know in advance by emailing us at, and including your name, phone number, and times you are available to help on Thursday. We strongly recommend that volunteers attend our Pod-Tasting, Inspection, and Ticketing workshop on June 18.

This event made even better due to generous support from Lush Cosmetics & The Sustainable Lush Fund.

Mesquite (and carob) pods will be milled BEFORE THE SUMMER RAINS to encourage harvesting before the rains (as recommended by the Mesquite Harvest Working Group) for a higher-quality harvest, with less insect predation, and far less potential for invisible molds more common in post-rain harvests.

See here for more on why pre-rain harvests are the traditional practice, and so important.

About the Milling: Bring Your Own Pods!

Pods for milling must be clean, dry, and free of mold/fungus, stones, leaves, and other debris.
Cost: $3/gallon of whole pods, with a minimum of $10.

One gallon of whole mesquite pods mills into about one pound of flour, so the price averages $3 per pound of flour—a bargain considering that the flour usually sells for $14–$20 per pound. After pod inspection and prepayment, you may leave your pods in sealed food-grade containers (preferably 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids), with owner’s name and phone number written on each container. Flour will be ready within a week and must be picked up. No refunds.

Mesquite flour is a naturally sweet, nutritious, and delicious addition to recipes for cakes, cookies, pizza, bread, tortillas, granola, dog biscuits—you name it! And like many other native foods, gluten-free mesquite is great for people with hypoglycemia and diabetes as it regulates blood glucose levels.

We will also offer at the Fiesta:

  • Mesquite-pod tastings so you can experience the diverse array of flavors from different mesquite trees. This will help you enhance your awareness of different trees’ pod characteristics, thereby improving the quality of your harvest.
  • On-site aflatoxin testing of attendees’ milled mesquite flour for the incredible discounted price of $5 per test! A quick and easy way to determine whether your flour is safe and of high quality.

Many of our partners who participated in the June 16 market will return once again with their unique wild-foods offerings at the Fiesta. Other participants will be bringing new wild-food creations. Here’s some of what to look for:

  • UPDATE: Due to regulations & logistics, wild-foods craft beers originally planned for the Fiesta will instead be on tap only on June 24 at our Happy Hour at Tap & Bottle! Featuring Iron John’s Brewing‘s smoked mesquite apple beer, as well as a beer finished with creosote flowers. Proceeds will go to Desert Harvesters.
  • Barbara Rose of Bean Tree Farm will again be offering Bean Tree Processing Demonstrations from 4–7 pm (see demo notes from June 16 for details). Barbara, a desert-foods farmer/fermenter/cook, will show you how to process milled or whole desert ironwood seeds, palo verde seeds, and mesquite pods into numerous tasty dishes ranging from sprouts to edamame to desert peanuts to atole to sauces and beyond. (These demonstrations are part of the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market’s ongoing Desert Harvest series to teach the public how to identify, process, and use native foods.)
  • Native wild foods for sale such as mesquite flour, mesquite pancake mix, mesquite baked goods, EXO Roast’s Mesquite and Chiltepin Cold-Brew Coffees, cactus fruit, drinks, margarita mix, syrup, popsicles, desert lavender tea, carob powder, date vinegar, cholla buds, and more. Look throughout the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market for a variety of vendors: some new, some returning.
  • Native wild-food plants for sale such as chiltepins.
  • Hands-on native bean-tree propagation with the Pima County Public Library Seed Library staff. You get to go home with a newspaper pot planted with your chosen seed from a food-producing native bean tree.
  • Locally made, reusable cloth harvest bags and water-bottle slings for sale

See for more information.

BEFORE YOU COME, BE SURE TO read the pod-harvesting and -preparation guidelines online at: and

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Questions about any of the above? Email Desert Harvesters.