What do Andalusian horses, traditional feasts, mariachis and heirloom wheat have to do with each other?
The answer: Plenty!–when you are in Baja Arizona this month! Tia Marta here to tell you about one of those special Tucson “happenings” not to miss….
The Old Pueblo is gearing up at Tucson’s Birthplace–Mission Garden–for an important seasonal moment in the “Food Calendar” of Baja Arizona. This coming Saturday, May 13, 2017, we celebrate the Feast of San Ysidro Labrador, patron saint of farmers and gardeners. Winter crops of wheat, barley and flax, introduced by Padre Kino and other missionaries, are turning golden in the Mission Garden fields, their plump ripe seed heads undulating in unison like sea-waves with spring wind.
It’s time to harvest! And that means… time to celebrate! The San Ysidro Fiesta promises hands-on learning, food, music and fun for every age and every interest. In Baja Arizona’s inimitable way, San Ysidro brings together our diverse cultures to rejoice in this special Sonoran Desert homeland.
By the way what is a sheaf–what are sheaves–anyway?? In the dictionary a sheaf is defined as “one of the bundles in which cereal plants, as wheat, rye, etc., are bound after reaping.” At Mission Garden’s Fiesta de San Ysidro Labrador we can get into sheaving hands-on, do the sheaving the old way, then watch as the ancient breed of helpful Andalusian horses thresh the grain loosening seedheads from straw. [Who needs a gym?] We can get fresh air and exercise winnowing the wheat with a traditional wooden pala, tossing grain into the air to let the breeze separate kernels from chaff.
The Fiesta will begin with a procession at 9am led by Tucson Presidio volunteers in full period garb, from the site of the original San Augustine Mission at the Santa Cruz riverbank 2 blocks distance to the Mission Garden itself (planted on the original site–a living agro-history garden). Everyone is invited to join the procession.
Mariachis will have our feet tapping–This year it’s Los Changuitos Feos to play!
Native Tohono O’odham dancers will bless the ground once again with their rhythms.
Historians will tell us of the rich happenings on this very site for the last 4100 years, and Padres from San Xavier will offer their blessings.
If you haven’t seen the Mission Garden recently, you will be thrilled by the new structures giving shady space for relaxing and beautiful period-adobes for future education classes. The heirloom fruit trees are heavy with membrillo fruit (quince), pomegranate and figs. The Mission Period vegetable garden is dense with produce, artichoke-tops 7′ high, and medicinal hollyhocks in full flower!
Several information booths will be there with volunteers –including NativeSeeds/SEARCH, Tucson Herbalist Collective (THC), and Avalon Gardens–sharing their rich knowledge about heirloom seeds, traditional gardening and cuisine, or herbal medicine.
The freshly harvested wheat was traditionally made into a delicious posole stew. Cooks at this San Ysidro Fiesta will be prepping cauldrons of POSOLE DE TRIGO for all to enjoy! (You can find a recipe for Posole with Tepary Beans, Pilt’kan ch Ba’bawi Posh’oldt, on our May 8, 2015 Savorthesouthwest post. Google posole de trigo for many great versions, some with chicken, some with beef, some vegetarian.)
You can find out more about this FREE event full of fun and local flavors at http://www.tucsonsbirthplace.org or at MissionGarden.Tucson@gmail.com or by calling 520 955-5200. Here are details for Día de San Ysidro Labrador, our Traditional Tucson Farmers’ Festival, Reviving A Celebration of our fields and farmers. Put next Saturday, May 13, 2017, on your iPhone calendar right now. Procession begins at 9:00 a.m. Activities, music, booths, and hopefully the posole will last to 11:30 a.m.
- Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos
- Alabanza by Bobby Benton
- Native American four-directions blessing
- Presentation by Father Gregory Adolf
- Ceremonial wheat harvest, threshing & winnowing
- Blessing of fields, food, and animals
- Tohono O’Odham Dancers
- Tasting of Pozole de trigo
Notecards with the legend of San Ysidro, from a colorful mosaic yours truly Tia Marta created from 21 Heirloom Beans, will be available for sale–along with many other traditional native foods–at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH booth. Come see a demonstration of whole kernel White Sonora Wheat being cooked in the solar oven!
San Ysidro Fiesta is a Baja Arizona feast of knowledge and tradition to be shared–come and enjoy our diverse community in the fruitful Mission Garden!