“Ecolutionary” gardener Ron Finley opens up his urban garden for social impact experience

“Ecolutionary” Ron Finley is offering people the opportunity to gain an insight into the man who has helped serve up food justice on tables throughout South LA and has put urban gardening on the world map.

The man they call the “gangsta gardener” 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”.

Finding his calling in gardening, the South LA resident has been responsible for changing the area from “food desert to food forest” by introducing residents to fresh fruit and vegetables through his edible gardens, first planted along “parkways”. These are basic foods that many South LA residents have never experienced.

Now Ron Finley is offering a one day social impact experience, through Airbnb, where participants take an electric bike tour of Ron Finley’s neighbourhood to find out what inspired his gardening initiative, learn how to garden and compost, and then sit down to a farm-to-table meal in the parkway garden itself.

All funds raised from this one day social impact experience – the next date is on 5 August – will go towards building HQ, an urban garden in South LA.

Non-profit organisation, The Ron Finley Project, is raising funds to make HQ a reality. HQ will create a myriad of jobs for local residents, and the plot of land will be a self-sufficient ecosystem of gardening, education, cooking, business learning and management.

“When you plant a garden, you’re not just feeding people. You’re healing the planet, the soil, and yourself, all at the same time,” Ron Finley said in an interview with Reader’s Digest. “Right now I think we need more ecolutionaries. We need more gangsta gardeners. We need more people feeding Mother Earth.”

Ron Finley wants his actions to be educational, inspiring, and nutritious. He wants kids to grow up with the option of healthy food, instead of fried, fattening staples.

The former fashion designer turned his hands to a gardening course after the recession left him out of work. He was inspired to take the course, yet even more inspired to grow his own fruit and vegetables, as it would take a 45-minute car ride out of his neighbourhood to find fresh fruit and vegetables.

His first stint at planting was in 2011 along “parkways” – the neglected dirt areas next to the roads outside his home – planting an “urban” garden of chard, tomatoes, onions, aubergines and melons in an area where healthy food was rare

People would come and sample food, some of which they had never tasted before. Community engagement grew, and so too, an awareness of food and sustainability.

Today Ron Finley’s edible garden is much larger as he has created a garden in a disused Olympic-sized pool and its surrounding areas at his South LA home. It’s where you’ll find artichokes, chard, flowering celery, Mexican marigolds, kale, mint and berries, alongside urban art – featuring murals painted by Ron Finley’s sons – and planters temporarily housed in shopping trolleys.

Ron Finley’s urban oasis is surrounded by butterflies, hummingbirds, and the gardener’s very own bees. A paradise if ever there were in South LA.

Ron Finley

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, wellbeing, music and arts. Rosalind also works as a counsellor, intuitive reader and spiritual life coach helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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