Seed Is Good: How Ron Finley is Changing South L.A. One “Gangsta” Garden at a Time

Guerrilla gardener Ron Finley has transformed South L.A.’s “food desert” into an organic oasis—and a growing movement

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Illustration: Andy FriedmanIllustration: Andy Friedman

Three years ago Ron Finley turned a neglected curb into a neighborhood garden, with fruits and veggies on the house. “I’m serving the community. Sometimes people throw a dollar over the fence or leave an apple tree at my door. I want to show how growing your own food is like printing your own money.” Minting fresh produce is now 100 percent legal. “We got the city council to amend an ordinance so you can plant vegetation on your parkway, and they’ve promised to turn vacant lots into green spaces.” His influence continues to grow, thanks to a wildly popular TED talk and the interest of a certain activist chef. “Alice Waters is gangster. She came to my spot—talk about being honored. More than likely, I’m going to do something with her.”

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