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Image: Ron Finley, the Guerrilla Gardner poses in front of his garden

Guerrilla Gardener Takes on South Central LA

You’ve heard of Gorilla Glue and Guerrilla Warfare? Both are a response to problems, but they are not always productive. But have you heard of the Guerrilla Gardener of South Central LA?

Image: Ron Finley standing on the curb of a street-side garden holding some key gardening essentials
Photo by Stephen Zeigler

Here’s what is said on the beautiful website about his amazing project:

Ron Finley is a man who will not sit still and watch a problem take root. Having grown up in the South Los Angeles food desert, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato. In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution.“I wanted a carrot without toxic ingredients I didn’t know how to spell,” says Ron.

His was an exceptionally creative, cost-effective and simple solution; however, it was also an act of spirited rebellion that led to a run-in with the authorities. The City of Los Angeles owns the “parkways,” the neglected dirt areas next to roads where Ron was planting. He was cited for gardening without a permit.

This slap on the wrist did little to dissuade his green thumb.

So Ron fought back. Hard. He started a petition with fellow green activists, demanding the right to garden and grow food in his neighborhood – and then, the city backed off. This caught the eyes of creative leaders and media voices that lauded his courageous act of ebullient defiance. Ron has continued to share his story and vision with the world, giving a TED talk and planning many exciting ways to continue his involvement in mitigating Los Angeles food deserts.

His dreams have been reshaped into a thriving garden of pumpkins, peppers, sunflowers, kale and corn. But more than being a guerilla gardener, Ron is a community leader. Determined to change South Los Angeles from food desert to food forest, he 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. He wants to sweep up and transform his street, his hood, the city of LA and communities everywhere.

Source: TED 1

Now, wait until you hear Ron speak for himself—a more compelling speaker would be hard to imagine!

Even if you are not a gardener at all, this video is so moving and full of possibility that we’re sure you’ll still be amazed.

Here’s a story from the always incredible TED YouTube channel about finding the tools for transformation:

*There are a few slight profanities, so use caution if you’re around sensitive ears. 

Via: TED 2

You can see much more about this project at RonFinley.com.

I love this particular fellow for his candor, passion, and genius. It made me appreciate the potential in my own gardening knowledge and realize how far people actually are from their food.

What if more public places were reclaimed by the public and used to grow food and flowers?

The video we shared today is one of my favorite TED Talks for the simple reason that this guy is “real”. There’s either too much cheesy or brutal “reality” on the web these days, or there’s not enough.  But this one hits the sweet spot that seems to strike at a common thread in all of us.

Meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful!

–  Dr. Lynda

Source: Dr. Lynda Ulrich

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  1. Finley, Ron. “Meet Ron Finley.” Ron Finley. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 July 2015. <https://ronfinley.com/about/>.
  2. Finley, Ron. “Ron Finley: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA.”YouTube. TED, 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 3 July 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzZzZ_qpZ4w>.
Image: Dr. Lynda

Lynda Ulrich


Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.

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