Ron Finley is a creative phenomenon: a gangsta horticulturalist, with a strong vision for community gardening and changing culture. Nicknamed the “Gangsta Gardener,” Finley planted organic vegetables in the parkway in front of his South Los Angeles home and a revolution began. His belief that gardens build communities has blossomed into a quest to change how we eat.
Having grown up in the South Los Angeles food prison, Finley was familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it was like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato. When the city cited him for his plantings, Finley started a bureaucratic battle, gathering signatures and working with local officials until city ordinances were altered to include edibles. Finley’s goal was simple; bring healthy food to an area where there was none. With donated tools, saplings and seeds, he organized volunteers and led “dig-ins” citywide, planting edible gardens in resident parkways and yards, schools and homeless shelters. Eventually Finley’s work earned him an invite to the annual TED conference, and his talk is a testament to his passion for the work. It has been viewed by over three million people to date on YouTube.