Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Guerilla Gardener from South L.A. Gives Inspiring TED Talk

Support your source for local news!
The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

Ron Finley, a South Central L.A. native, is trying to change the way his community eats. Along with his nonprofit organization L.A. Green Grounds is all about paying it forward in the form of food. His volunteers include gardeners from all walks of life who are working for free in the hopes of eliminating L.A.'s food deserts by planting gardens in some of its 26 square miles of vacant lots.

It all started when he grew a 150 foot "food forest" in a food desert on a parkway that was owned by the city. He was hoping not only to feed himself, but his community, which has obesity rates are five times as high as in Beverly Hills. "Dialysis centers are popping up like Starbucks," he said in his recent TED Talk, which was just posted online and below.

Finley recognized that food was food was both the problem and the solution. So he started growing organic fruits and vegetables on a small vacant patch of city land outside his house.

But back in 2011, Finley was threatened with a warrant if he didn't take out the garden. But that didn't stop him. After getting a write up from Steve Lopez in the LA Times and rallying the support of the community, the guerrilla gardeners were allowed to carry on about their business.

Support for LAist comes from

Finley hopes that his work will help train kids to take over their communities, showing them the glories of growing their own produce. He wants to make growing cool, turning thugs into "gangster gardeners." It's sort of a legal hustle, and one that can truly help better the community.

"Growing your own food is like printing your own money," he says.

Watch the video here, and prepare to be inspired.

Most Read