2021 - Midtown Farm Medicines




The goal of the Midtown Farm is to transform Julia Keen Elementary, a closed public school, into a neighborhood resource that can help feed, educate and empower the local residents of Barrio Centro toward a more sustainable future. The Flowers and Bullets Collective, a Tucson based grassroots group, are the caretakers of the farm and they have been partnering with the University of Arizona and The Community and School Garden program over the past several years.


Beyond food production, there are many other aspects to the Midtown Farm. These include tending to livestock, organizing the community, and creating and promoting local art - all of which aim to preserve and embody traditional practices. In 2021, a communal space was initiated and built using traditional earth works and passive rainwater harvesting techniques (Photo above). This gathering space has been planted with numerous native plants with the goal of eventually being shaded by a mature mesquite tree canopy, and providing an interpretive garden showcasing other Southwestern native plants as they would be cultivated traditionally. Upon completion, the garden will be used as an educational resource for the Tucson community, featuring a variety of southwestern plants of the Sonoran desert and their traditional uses.  


(Photo above) Visitors can connect to the educational content in two ways: A QR coded interpretive sign located on the site connects garden visitors to the educational content created for 8 of the native plants valued traditionally for their medicinal benefits. Alternatively, digital visitors to the Campus Arboretum site, may also directly access the educational content from any remote location using the links below. The list below includes some of the medicinal plants that can be found at the Midtown Farm site with hyperlinks to the educational content created for 8 species. Plant names are listed in order with their scientific name (far left), followed by their English, Spanish and Tohono O'odham common names (respectively from left to right). 



Sonoran Native Medicinal Plant List: 



Larrea tridentata  |  creosote | gobernadora  |  segai






Simmondsia chinensis  | goat nut  | jojoba  | hohowai






Hyptis emoryi  |  desert lavender  |  salvia del desierto  | wiopal 






Baccharis sarothroides  |  desert broom  |  romerillo  |  su:sk wakck






Encelia farinosa  |  brittle bush  |  incienso  |  tohaws 






Nicotiana obtusifolia  |  tobacco  | tabaquito  |  ban wiwgao








This project is in partial fulfillment of PLS493-442, an internship course of study completed during Spring and Summer 2021. This project was completed in partnership with the Campus Arboretum under the supervision of Prof. Tanya Quist. by Alex Peterson. Alex is an Indigenous undergraduate student in the School of Plant Sciences pursuing a B.S. degree in Sustainable Plant Systems. 




, greasewoodSpanish: gobern

June, 2021


QR link on sign updated June 2023