How Basil is Helping a Community Get Back to Work, Grow Local, and Save Water

Nestlé Professional chefs are making some pretty awesome pesto
Jun 2, 2017 9:05 AM ET

by Andrew Eccles, Nestlé USA

You probably cook with basil in your kitchen — for most of us it’s a staple herb, and not something we give much thought to as we chop it up and sprinkle it into our food. For a community in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, basil is more than just a flavor enhancer: it’s a way to reintegrate back into the community, to grow food sustainably, and sell that food locally to chefs at organizations like Nestlé Professional.

Green City Growers (GCG) is a business a few blocks outside of downtown Cleveland which was launched and is managed by the non-profit, Evergreen Co-op. An urban farm, GCG is composed of a 3.5 acre growing area made up of 13 pools of purified water. There are no traditional fields at the facility — all the leafy crops inside are grown floating on top of the pools. There are a number of herbs and leafy greens, including cilantro and chives, but at a production rate of 300,000 lbs each year, basil is the cream of the crop.

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