South LA

Grow Your Own Food With LA's ‘Gangsta Gardener'

"Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in an inner city. Plus you get strawberries."

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With stay-at-home orders, and possible meat shortages at the grocery store because of the pandemic, one alternative is becoming more and more popular: growing your own food.

For Ron Finley, growing his own food in his 'Gangsta Garden' in South LA has been his life for over a decade.

He has gooseberries, Okinawan, New Zealand spinach, fava beans and wild arugula growing in abundance.

More people are turning to gardening in the age of quarantine and potential meat shortages.

"Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in an inner city. Plus you get strawberries," Finley said in his 2013 Ted Talk, which has reached over three million viewers.

We first visited his garden five years ago in our Life Connected series.

Finley had won a battle with the city to be able to plant in the parkway in front of his home. Something he encourages everyone to do. If not here, than in any space you can find.

All you need is good healthy soil and something to plant, Finley said.

"All you literally have to do is take a piece and stick it in the ground and it will grow," Finley said.

Finley said the soil and seeds can be bought if you cannot find it naturally, which means any of us can have a banana tree or grow artichokes in the comfort of your personal yards.

Cary Berglund talked with Ron Finley about the garden he planted in the parkway. The city was threatening him with a citation and a fine.

Finley's passion for gardening transcended to the Ron Finley Project -- an effort to create a self-sufficient ecosystem of gardening, education, cooking, business learning and management.

"You cannot eat all the food you grow -- it's impossible. You have to share," Finley said.

On his website, Finley said he envisions a world where gardening is gangsta, where cool kids know their nutrition and where communities embrace the act of growing, knowing and sharing the best of the earth’s fresh-grown food.

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