Garden Kitchen gets another five year lease - Tucson News Now

Garden Kitchen gets another five year lease

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has voted to give the Garden Kitchen in South Tucson another five year lease at a general fund cost of $100,000.

The Garden Kitchen was started as a partnership between Pima County and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension five years ago as part of a health and wellness program.

"The mission of the community garden is to try to combat obesity," said Jennifer Parlin, a program assistant. "So it does save us costs in medical care."

While there is no real data to back that up, the county felt confident enough in the kitchen's mission to vote unanimously to approve the lease extension.

Nearly 250,000 people have either visited the garden since it opened in 2012 or have participated in classes either on site or as part of a traveling program.

"We will come where you are," Parlin said.

An example of that is the Pueblo Viejo Senior Center on 18th. They helped set up a small garden for the senior residents at the center, who because they receive a housing subsidy, qualify for only about $16 a month in food stamps despite an income of less than $400 a month.

"They can use their food stamp money to buy seeds," said Parlin. "A package of seeds may only cost a couple of bucks."

That can really stretch their food budget. 

"Once we have this nice harvest up and booming, they can help themselves," said Alecia Romero, director for the center. 

The Garden Kitchen is hidden in plain site at 2205 South 4th Avenue, on property Pima County purchased, in part to keep it out of the hands of a motorcycle group which wanted to buy it.

It's in a poor section of town, not by accident.

"It's in a lower income neighborhood, so I think us being placed here is very important," she said. "Because transportation can be a barrier to people and they can walk here."

The kitchen promotes healthy eating, cheap recipes, and how to grow your own food without busting the budget. 

They encourage people to garden using techniques that are inexpensive but produce good results.

People usually start out with spices and herbs because those are easiest and gradually step up to edibles like onions, tomatoes and peppers. 

The Garden Kitchen is currently closed for renovation but when it opens again in July, it will be more than a garden and food showcase. It will be a hands on kitchen where people can actually prepare the dishes.

More information is available here. 

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