Inspiration: The Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finley

One of my favorite TED talks is by Ron Finley of South Central L.A., also known as the Guerilla Gardener or the Gangsta Gardener. His TED talk is inspiring, encouraging, and engaging, and the work he is doing is incredible. I listen to this talk every time I need to feel reenergized and pumped up about my garden, because let’s be honest, it’s hard work and sometimes we all need a little encouragement. Ron’s talk reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I am to live in a place where food grows abundantly, and healthy options are readily available.

However, we should never take those options for granted! They are only available because like-minded people are busy producing healthy, organic food. Without this, any number of us could find ourselves in a food desert or food prison, like the reality so many Americans experience every single day. There are myriad places where healthy options simply don’t exist, and people are imprisoned by the lack of options. Hence, it amazes me that people still choose packaged junk in places where fresh food is abundant and affordable.

I encourage you to listen to Ron’sΒ talk in full, even if you don’t have a garden of your own. (Especially if you don’t have a garden of your own!) Here are some of my favorite quotes from this inspiring speaker, activist, community leader, and garden gangsta:

“Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

“Food is the problem and food is the solution.”

“Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” [Emphasis added by me because this is so true!]

“I refuse to be a part of this manufactured reality that was manufactured for me by some other people, and I’m manufacturing my own reality.”

“To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil. We are the soil.”


A fitting place for a picture of both strawberries and kale from my garden …

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus you get strawberries.”

“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 the hell you put in front of them.”

“So I want us all to become ecolutionary renegades, gangstas, gangsta gardeners. We gotta flip the script on what a gangsta is. If you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta. Get gangsta with your shovel, okay? And let that be your weapon of choice.”

I hope you check out Ron’s talk, and even consider how you might go about ‘printing your own money’ even if that means a single tomato plant or a box of herbs in your window. Growing your own food is the ultimate in quality-control and an excellent rebellion against the junk passed off as food in the supermarkets. If you are able to share your bounty, that would be totally awesome! Local shelters are always seeking fresh, healthy food to serve to their clients. If you are growing just for you, that’s awesome too. Your body will thank you for your smart investment! And, thank you, Ron, for sharing your amazing vision!

Now excuse me, while I go get gangsta with my shovel …

With Peace,



One thought on “Inspiration: The Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finley

  1. Pingback: Jam Session | The Thistle Field

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