UP Sprout

Chef Marcela Valladolid



Case Study:


The Urban Plantations team was thrilled when Chef Marcela Valladolid reached out asking for help. She wanted to turn every chef’s dream into reality. Could Urban Plantations design and install a Mexican-inspired culinary garden at her San Diego home?

That’s a big “dill,” of course!

It’s quite possible you’ve heard of Chef Marcela Valladolid. As a consistent chef, host, and contestant on a number of Food Network shows like “The Kitchen” and “Chopped,” she has made an impact far beyond the reaches of Southern California. Her fame and success has only been magnified as the author of four published books. Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias even highlights her backyard garden!

Urban Plantations transformed Chef Marcela’s bare backyard into an organic pantry that is both beautiful and productive. Eight raised beds are centered in the space surrounded by fountains, patios, and entertainment spaces. Lush citrus trees offer height and shade, while in-ground herbs and flowers provide all the fragrance. A dazzling grey pebble compliments the raised beds, made with sustainable California redwood.

A wide array of native plants and flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to the garden. In fact, each fall Urban Plantations converts part of the garden entirely to marigolds. Chef Marcela and her family use the marigolds for Dia De Los Muertos festivities!

The garden includes all the signature staples each year: carrots, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, onions, squash, tomatoes, and so many more. To further customize the garden to Chef Marcela’s cooking style and family’s taste, there are also a number of influences from south-of-the-border. These include hot peppers, tomatillos, oregano, yerba buena, chamomile, and epazote.

Chef Marcela and her family can often be seen getting their hands dirty and harvesting on her Instagram feed. Actually, her connection with the garden runs deeper than you may think.


In a blog post co-authored by our very own Marketing and Operations Supervisor Jessica Gonzalez, Chef Marcela dives into how her family’s poor eating habits as a child inspired her adult life and career. Here’s an excerpt:


“Contrary to what everybody thinks, I didn’t grow up eating the healthiest foods. I was certainly exposed to the traditional delicacies of Mexico, but being on the border and crossing that border every day also exposed us to America’s fast foods and prepackaged-meal culture much more than other cities in central and southern Mexico. Whenever friends or family would come visit, they would marvel at the stash of big-box products my dad kept in the second pantry (the first one was for savory, Mexican stuff). Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Squeeze-its, canned spray-cheese, Fruit Roll-Ups, Oreos, American chocolate bars, and every potato chip on Planet Earth!”


Read her full blog post “How My Dad’s Obsession With Junk Food Led Me To My Organic Garden”. Don’t forget to scroll down to explore Urban Plantations’ contribution “How To Start Your Own Garden in 7 Easy Steps,” and learn more about installing a culinary garden at your own home here!