Jim Verrier, nursery director, wheels plants into place for the fall sale, which now takes place over five days.

Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star

Desert Survivors will hold its fall plant sale from Tuesday through Oct. 5, with 400 to 500 species of Sonoran Desert plants available at 10 percent discount.

Money made from the sale goes back into the nonprofit organization’s vocational and early intervention programs.

Desert Survivors’ nursery employs 40 adults with special needs through its vocational program. It also provides early intervention services to families with children at risk of developmental delays.

“If you spend $20 on a tree, you get a plant that does good in Tucson. It employs people and helps moms, dads and babies,” said Rich Bechtold, executive director of Desert Survivors. “I don’t know what you can do better with $20. It’s a lot more than a plant.”

Bechtold has been with Desert Survivors 20 of its 32 years. “Companies like this are a lot like plants,” he said. “If it looks like it did last year, it’s probably dead. ... Companies have to grow like plants.”

One way Desert Survivors has responded to growth is by extending the length of its seasonal sales. Those used to be weekend events, but they got so crowded, the workers couldn’t give as much attention to customers as they’d like, Bechtold said.

He extended the spring sale, and found it was really busy over the five-day span. Its busiest days were Tuesday and Saturday. The fall sale is now ready to follow suit.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at

573-4137 or apitteng@azstarnet.com.

Families and schools reporter for #ThisIsTucson. Artist, photographer, mother of one.