Garden Pesto!! | Juan Cabrillo

Since the first day I stepped foot onto Juan Cabrillo’s campus, I was overwhelmed by the amount of basil bushes in their garden! Over the summer, this herb seeded and spread to five different areas. But who’s complaining? 😉 By keeping them routinely pruned over the last month, the basil plants are beautiful and the leaves look very fresh and vibrant green with no signs of bugs (I guess the critters prefer the tomatoes, peppers and chard, as Intern Frank and I can never seem to harvest this bounty before they get gobbled up!). We were very grateful to use the leaves today to make pesto!

First we talked as a class what pesto IS. Most of the students had never eaten it (knowingly). Pesto is a spread traditionally made from olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and our secret ingredient … a special herb found in the garden! I tried to see if the kids could guess what it was. Frank passed around a beautiful sprig for the kids to smell. We learned that an herb is a plant that, when added to dishes and such, adds flavor to recipes. Some examples are mint, pepper, rosemary, thyme etc. After a bit of though the kids finally guessed the mystery herb: Basil.

Then the students harvested some basil leaves for our pesto. They did a great job finding the most yummiest leaves with no holes, bugs or dirt. Finally, they all watched as I blitzed up the ingredients in a food processor….


…a big thumbs up for a tasty snack!!!!!! The kids wanted to come back for thirds!!


    The recipe for 1/2 cup pesto:
    1 garlic clove
    1 big handful fresh basil
    3 TBS Parmesan cheese
    3-5 TBS olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

Blitz in a food processor for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Serve with crackers, toasted bread or pasta!

Hope Cox

Native to Tennessee, Hope fell in love with urban farming while majoring in Nutrition/Dietetics at UT Chattanooga. She volunteered at an urban farm there for two years and gleaned (pun intended!) bushels of knowledge about harvesting & planting, CSA box coordination, farmers market stands, school field trips, farm-to-table and more. When Hope moved to Los Angeles in late 2014, she began volunteering with EnrichLA and soon after became a Ranger. She loves sharing with her elementary students the hands-on experience of gardening, finding bugs, composting and eating from the garden. The expression of glee on the students' faces when they discover a new critter or favorite vegetable is the best part of Hope's day! One day, she hopes to be a real farmer in the country but for now is glad to be learning the ins-and-outs of inner-city farming.