Agriculture at the Mission
An artist's rendering of mission-era agricultural fields
Tumacácori's fallow fields
How It Was
Evidence of agriculture goes back nearly 4,000 years in the archeological record at Tumacácori. Nearby sites preserve the evidence of agave cultivation. The O'odham (and the Hohokam before them) had developed a system of agriculture utilizing the floodplains of the Santa Cruz River and supplementing with irrigation from hand-dug canals. Corn had long been a staple crop of the O’odham. It could be planted in April and harvested in June, planted again in July and harvested in October. The O’odham also cultivated native tepary beans, squash, pumpkin, muskmelons and the ever-popular watermelon. Wild native foods like saguaro fruit, mesquite beans, and dozens of others could be collected and consumed.
How It Is Now
In 2004 Tumacácori National Historical Park acquired property adjacent to the mission grounds which included the original 5-acre mission orchard and a significant portion of the original agricultural area. The challenge: replant a Spanish mission-era orchard and garden using heritage fruit tree cultivars. A team of researchers from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the University of Arizona, the National Park Service, and other Tucson area organizations answered the call.
Last updated: July 23, 2020