Dena & Jesus: Garden Connections

Dena and Jesus. Faces of the Festival 2019. Steven Meckler photo


I grew up in Tucson and then moved to Spain. I’m torn between Tucson’s desert and the rainy forests in Spain. I feel at home and in both worlds. I met Jesus at the Desert Museum’s prickly pear harvesting class that he was teaching. I made a video about him called “Tasting History,” and then he visited me in Spain. I recently came back to Tucson. I am proud, honored, and happy to have participated in the creation of Mission Garden, Tucson’s agricultural heritage museum. When we started it was a barren lot and now it’s a food forest and a community center. 



I’m originally from Magdalena, Sonora and have lived in Tucson for almost 30 years. I’ve been working at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum for 20 some years, am a board member of the Mission Garden, and I like to work in agriculture and food and ethnohistory. The Sonoran Desert feels like home. If I go to the mountains or the ocean, I love it, but I feel like I’m on vacation. I am proud of the heritage and knowledge that I got from my parents, even though they’re not here anymore. The foods I eat, the music I play, and the person that I am are gifts I inherited from them.


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