The ubiquitous mesquite tree provides desert shade, greenery -- and gluten-free food.

While many people have mesquite trees in their yards, they may not realize that mesquite pods provide a nutritious flour substitute that can be used in sweet and savory dishes.

The Desert Harvesters specializes in teaching how to use plants that are naturally growing in Tucson as a source of food.

The organization's Harvest Festival and Mesquite Milling event will be open to the public on Nov. 3.

"In addition to being able to bring mesquite pods that you have harvested earlier in the year to be ground in our community mill, we will also have lectures where people can learn all about the other edible plants that grow naturally in our surroundings," says Dana Helfer, member of Desert Harvesters.

The festival will feature a bake sale at which visitors can buy everything from cookies and crepes to crackers and breads, all made from the gluten-free mesquite flour.