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Ron Finley: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA

In this inspiring TED talk, Ron Finley teaches us all how to be ‘Gangster Gardeners’ and how to let your shovel be the weapon of choice. In his own words, "Growing your own food is like printing your own money". Let that be our new battle cry across the land. Ron and his volunteer gang are showing us how to end the scourge of cities — ‘the food desert.’

Artist and designer Ron Finley couldn’t help but notice what was going on in his backyard. “South Central Los Angeles,” he quips, “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by.” And it’s the drive-thru fast-food stands that contribute more to the area’s poor health and high mortality rate, with one in two kids contracting a curable disease like Type 2 diabetes.

Finley’s vision for a healthy, accessible “food forest” started with the curbside veggie garden he planted in the strip of dirt in front of his own house. When the city tried to shut it down, Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time.

"An inspiration to all, Ron Finley is a true urban farming hero." — Andrew Gunther, Huffington Post, 10.3.11


  1. Looking forward to an exciting future led by people like Ron! Big gratitude for Ron and his permaculture teacher Larry Santoyo.

  2. Hallelujah Ron, for a beautifully expressed message. My heartfelt admiration for you, Los Angeles Green Grounds volunteers, and Florence Nishida — Master Gardner, mycologist and gardening teacher for conceptualizing Green Grounds.

    A special acknowledgement to Bill Mollison, quoted so well by Ron : “The problem IS the solution”, (food). The guiding principals of permaculture are the foundation of the approach of Green Grounds , and Westside Permies in initiating the volunteer garden installation, in and around Los Angeles, both in the establishment of gardens, replacement of front yard & parkingstrip lawns and the approach to the food desert problem. A great example of permaculture in action — by design.
    Nicholas Mastromatteo, volunteer gardner

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