[permaculture] Phoenix Mesquite Collection and Community Walkabouts

Greg FarmerGreg at UrbanFarm.org
Sun Jul 17 00:10:18 EDT 2005

Hi all,

We had a great planning meeting for the mesquite 
milling the other evening.  There were nine of us 
there and we accomplished a lot.  We (The Phoenix 
Permaculture Guild, The Phoenix Slow Food Group, 
Roadrunner Park Farmers Market and The Urban 
Farm) will be working together to bring this 
event to Phoenix.  The biggest thing that we need 
to get accomplished right now is that everyone 
needs to get collecting beans so that there are 
plenty to mill in November.  So mostly this email 
will spell that out.

First of all go out and collect mesquite beans. 
They are ripe and dry now and will continue to 
produce into September.  Collect only dry beans 
then follow the directions below on how to 
process them.

I have had several people inquire as to that I am 
talking about when I say milling.  Milling is a 
process by which the mesquite beans are 
pulverized into a protein rich powder very 
similar to flour.  It is very tasty and can be 
used for cookies, breads and in drinks like 
protein powder.  It is really good stuff. 

Community Collection Walkabouts
We will be offering several mesquite bean 
walkabouts over the next 45 days with the first 
one being on Saturday August 6.   We will meet at 
6 am (to beat the heat) at Chris Carlile's home 
at 920 W Pierson, which is just south of 
Camelback and just West of 7th Street.

We will be offering one on the west side and one 
in the east valley in August (more information to 
follow).  If you would like to sponsor a 
walkabout let me know.

Specific Collection Information

So you want to begin collecting the mesquite 
beans here are the rules and specifics.

1.  Collect only dry beans.
2.  Collect only beans that are on the trees.
3.  If you must collect beans off the ground here are some caveats
* Beans presented for milling MUST contain only 
beans.  Any beans presented that have stones, 
sticks or other debris CANNOT be milled.  These 
other items damage the mill.
* Beans soaked or damaged by water cannot be milled.
* make sure that no pesticides are sprayed in the 
area where the beans are collected.
4.  Once you collect the beans they need to be 
dried.  I suggest using your solar oven to 
lightly toast the beans.  This drys them out and 
kills any of the bugs that like to inhabit the 
beans.  Last year I collected some beans and when 
it was time to mill them they were infested with 

To dry and to rid beans of bugs it is suggested 
that you heat the beans for a minimum of 2 hours 
at 160F.  This dries the beans and kills any 
pests that might be inhabiting them.
Solarizing options: spread on tarp on driveway 
(but beware of rain - if it doesn't ruin beans it 
will change their flavour), use solar oven or a 
regular oven and add batches of beans when you 
cook other things.

5.  Store the beans in airtight containers.  Once 
you have dried the beans get airtight bags or we 
suggest 5 gallon buckets with airtight lids and 
store them away. 

When you go to Collecting
What to take when collecting:
Tarp / sheet to catch the beans when they fall.
Stick with hook (pruning saw/ grapefruit picker etc..) to shake branches
5 gallon containers
Hat, water etcŠ
Note: Raking beans from ground (especially from 
xerascaped gravel) risks pesticide residues (and 
also getting debris into the harvest). It's 
better to pick from the tree or shake them off 
onto a sheet/tarp

Collecting methods - take a tarp, lay under tree 
and shake branches (by hand or with a stick/pole)
Quality and taste of beans vary tree to tree - taste as you collect!

Mesquite's you'll find here in the valley:
Honey	Prosopis glandulosa
Velvet	P. velutina
Chilean	P. chilensis
Screwbean	P. pubescens  (not as recommended 
for flour? maybe better for tea?)
Can hybridize, can be hard to distinguish (except 
screwbean). Taxonomy is a bit muddled!  See 

When you bring the beans for milling:

1.  All beans milled are for home use and cannot be sold.
2.  We will do a snap test.  The bean needs to 
snap in half with a crack rather then bend.   Any 
beans that bend cannot be milled as they can jam 
the mill and that slows everything down.
3.  In Tucson they limit people to three five 
gallon pails of beans, mainly because the turnout 
for the milling is so great and they have a hard 
time getting through it all.  We may have to do 
this as a starting point to make sure that 
everyone gets a chance to mill.
4.  You are encouraged to bring at least one 5 
gallon pail as it will grind down to about 1 
gallon of flour.

Milling Yield and other specifics
The milling will be at Roadrunner park (30th St. 
and Cactus (location of farmers market) on Nov. 
5th. The time will be announced at a later date.

A 5 gallon bucket of beans = 1 gallon flour 1 = about 2 lbs
In the store one pound of mesquite flour sells for $7 to $15
There will be a charge of $5 per 5 gallons of 
beans for milling.  This goes to paying for the 
mill and mill operators plus hauling the mill 
from Tucson.  It is
Flour should be frozen to preserve until use.
Carob milling also will be possible at end of day.

See you at one of the walkabouts or the milling.

Don, Rachel, Greg, Pam, Judy, Chris, Mike, Pauline, Kerry,


***ATTENTION***  Please note my new email address.  FarmerGreg at UrbanFarm.org

The Urban Farm
Growing good food
Having fun gardening
Connecting with nature

Greg Peterson

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