The Garden Kitchen in South Tucson is celebrating a new renovation with a free event for the community.
Members of the public are invited for a day of food and healthy activities, including an ‘Iron Chef’ competition with Pima County supervisors, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9. The Garden Kitchen, located at 2205 S. Fourth Ave., is a taxpayer-funded, seed-to-table nutrition education center that opened in 2012.
The venue’s new series of hands-on cooking classes, which include knife skills and pasta making, will be introduced at the event.
The Garden Kitchen was created as a partnership between the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Pima County Cooperative Extension, Pima County and the city of South Tucson. The aim is to teach community residents low cost, healthy cooking with an emphasis on gardening.
The venue is located in a former Mexican restaurant that closed in 2009. Pima County purchased the site for $225,000 with neighborhood reinvestment money.
Before opening the center, the county spent another $150,000 on improvements and new kitchen equipment, plus $50,000 in federal anti-obesity money for other costs.
Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and HUD block grant money helped complete the latest $300,000 renovation, county officials said last week.
Prior to being a restaurant, the site was used by a dry cleaner and therefore qualified for federal dollars through the EPA’s Brownfields program, which provides funds to assess and safely reuse environmentally impacted properties.
Officials say since 2012, The Garden Kitchen has reached 250,000 Pima County residents and has been an integral part of revitalization work along South Fourth Avenue. The space is leased to the UA for $1 per year and the UA provides programming funds.