FOOD FRAUD: Guerilla Gardener Ron Finley – ‘Drive-Thrus are Killing More People Than the Drive-Bys’ (Flashback)

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– …”Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys” 

Drive-Thrus and Drive-Bys

“South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by. Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”  – Ron Finley, guerilla gardener in South Central LA


The Guerrilla Gardener Ron Finley is an “Eco-lutionary” – By Danny Bonvissuto


Stalk Market: The food Ron Finley grows is free, but keep your hands off his sunflowers.


Ron Finley has been called a renegade gardener, a gangster gardener and an eco-lutionary. His TED talk about turning South Central L.A,’s vacant lots into “food forests” has been viewed almost one million times since March. And he’s been profiled in everything from The New York Times to But if you ask the bugs and bees in his garden, Ron Finley is just the guy who runs out the door every morning to look at his plants.

“I get out there and get lost,” Finley says of the greenspace around his house in South Central, which feeds him and whoever else wanders by. “I run out there first thing in my underwear just to see how the seeds are doing. Four hours later, I haven’t eaten or washed my face.”

HGTVGardens spent one truly fantastic afternoon soaking up every word of Ron’s garden gospel. Here’s what he has to say about corn, compost and why seeds are becoming the new contraband.

Your career is in fashion design. Did gardening start as a hobby?

I’ve always kept something in a pot or terrace garden, but when I was designing clothes it wasn’t like, oh I’ve got to go home and graft this tree. When I had more time on my hands, the garden came to be. It’s meditative and needed in a sense because it provides healthy food I can’t find in my own neighborhood.

Gardening is another form of art and I plant for beauty. I want all kinds of different heights and color pops. Vegetable gardens to me are boring as hell; I plant like a mosaic.

What’s growing in your garden right now? 

Purple Chinese mustard greens, three kinds of kale and tons of arugula. I’ve got New Zealand spinach, mint, red onions, pineapple sage, rosemary, red dandelion greens, mizuna, corn, carrots, eggplants and hot peppers. There’s also almond, tangerine, Valencia orange, fig, apple, apricot and banana trees. Plus tons of sunflowers.

And you share all of this with your neighbors?

It’s all on the street. I do hate it when people cut my sunflowers, though. That’s not what they’re there for. People rip the plant out of the ground so they can have it for the day, but it won’t get to do what it’s supposed to do, which is produce seeds. But it’s on the street so I’ve got to deal with that..

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