Ron Finley says, “Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”
Ron Finley, an artist and designer, plants vegetable gardens anywhere and everywhere he can in South Central LA — he plants them in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. But why? He says it’s for fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer a healthy alternative to fast food in a community where he explains, “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.” The drive-through fast-food available everywhere in South Central LA “contribute more to the area’s poor health and high mortality rate, with one in two kids contracting a curable disease like Type 2 diabetes,” than the drive-bys do.
Finley’s vision of a healthy and accessible “food forest” began with a veggie garden planted on the strip of dirt in front of his own house. But, when the city tried to shut his curbside garden down, “Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time.”
He says, “If kids grow kale, kids eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes. But when none of this is presented to them, if they’re not shown how food affects the mind and the body, they blindly eat whatever you put in front of them.”