On Saturday, April 30, the forecast is sunny — with a chance of pancakes. To celebrate the nutritious and surprisingly delicious flavor of the mesquite pod, Valley Permaculture Alliance (VPA) is inviting the whole community to a mesquite pancake breakfast in the park. “It’s a way to encourage the general public to look at mesquite in a different way,” said Aimee Williamson, VPA executive director. “It provides a lot of protein, it’s low on the glycemic index and it tastes great.” Every year, native mesquite trees generate an abundance of yellow bean pods, often seen littering backyards, roadway medians and sidewalks. But these beans can actually be milled into flour and turned into food. Sub it for wheat flour and voilà — local, sustainable baked goods. With family-style picnic tables and blankets spread out on the lawn of the Space Between pocket park (517 N. First Street), guests of the pancake breakfast will get to enjoy a short-stack made with Arizona-grown mesquite flour, organic country potatoes, an organic egg quiche, organic leafy greens, local tepary beans and chicken sausage.
The Mesquite Pancake Breakfast will be held outdoors at the Space Between pocket park. (Photo: Fara Illich)
Featuring lawn games like cornhole, giant Jenga and Connect Four, this is a healthy, family-friendly affair for just $12 a plate. As a Phoenix-based nonprofit working toward sustainable urban living in the desert-southwest, VPA organized this event as more of a “friendraiser” than a fundraiser, according to Williamson. It’s simply a way to educate the community about the wonderful benefits of mesquite — and have some fun doing it. Known for its wood, which is used to make artisan furniture, or more commonly for its rich flavor in smoking meats, many people forget about mesquite’s food properties. In fact, the yellow bean pods are often considered a nuisance rather than a benefit. This event aims to change all that, according to Kate Radosevic, VPA community engagement director. “Mesquite has a really rich nutty flavor, so it lends itself to being put into a pancake and other baked goods,” she said. “The thing that’s really exciting is that the food is already growing all around us.” Shade and low water-use may be the most obvious reasons locals love mesquite trees, but there are myriad benefits including mitigating storm water runoff, improving air quality, and of course, food production — not only for humans but animals too. A variety of native insects, birds and animals depend on the seeds, leaves, flowers and bark — including doves, quail, deer, coyote, rabbits, bees, butterflies and a host of other critters. Following this event, VPA will be hosting a pod harvesting workshop June 1, and depending on interest and number of participants, the group may organize a community milling event in the fall. Mesquite Pancake Breakfast Details: Saturday, April 30, 2016 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Space Between / 517 N. First Street between Valley Youth Theatre and Taylor Place $12 for one plate of food / $40 for four plates *Click here for tickets