If You Ain’t A Gardener, You Ain’t Gangsta

Have you heard about the famous Los Angeles dweller and TED speaker, Ron Finley?

He is trying to get the word out that “You ain’t gangsta unless you have a garden!”

 Sounds crazy, right?

Ron Finley explains that being a gangster doesn’t necessarily, and shouldn’t, require a gun. Instead, You can use shovels and hard work to create something incredible. Finley even gave a TED talk about improving your health and starting neighborhood healthy gardens, no matter where you live.

Who is Ron Finley?


Ron Finley is famous for other reasons besides his recent controversial remarks. He is actually a very popular clothes designer and an artist based in California.

Ron took a class about gardening and started his garden in 2011. He planted vegetables to cook at home and to improve his health. Instead of planting a garden in his backyard, he decided to plant his garden in a public area.

He let people take what they wanted or needed, in an effort to share with those needy people in his community. The vegetables were not fenced in, so people that needed food could choose to pick healthy vegetables to eat instead of making bad food choices.

His beautiful and amazingly healthy plants that were growing in such a difficult city environment – throwing a new reality in his environment which was full of fast-food restaurants and negativity.

Unfortunately, planting his vegetables on public property was a problem. There are city rules saying you can’t claim public property as your own, even if you’re planting vegetables to make your neighbors healthier!

Vegetables can’t be planted in public, and Finley was given a warning that he needed to get rid of his garden. That warning became an actual arrest warrant when he refused to move his vegetables out of the public property.

Eventually, the authorities realized he was not the enemy, and his mission was a good one.

Ron Finley’s Mission

Ron Finley thinks that it is important to instill values about food, especially in our children. He believes that if children have grown up surrounded by amazing food, they will be much more open and acceptable to good health and making the right choices.

If kids grow up in a home full of fighting, they will become argumentative and think fighting is a normal part of life. If they are surrounded by processed food with little nutritional value that becomes what is normal and is what they will teach their own children.

Ron is famously quoted saying, “South Central Los Angeles [is the] home of the drive-thru and the drive-by. Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”- which is absolutely the truth. You can measure it statistically; heart disease and food-related illnesses kill many more people than stray bullets in urban areas.


Ron Finley is campaigning to bring good health to people who may not be able to afford it. In certain places- especially in inner cities- buying fresh vegetables at a grocery store is actually more expensive than buying processed foods.

He wants to create more neighborhood gardens for low-income people in neighborhoods just like his all over the United States. When being interviewed by CNN, this true gangster explained that he is trying to start a revolution of gardening in his home town of Los Angeles, California. He wants everyone to try it- and to increase their health while having a little fun outdoors.

Redefining The Norms

By saying that gardens are gangster, Ron trying to change the view that fast food is cool, and to encourage people to look at gardening as something fun and exciting. Healthy eating can very easily become ‘cool’, with people like Ron leading the charge.

While he may be gaining notoriety and doing TED talks across the country, Ron Finley has strong roots in his local area and thinks that everyone should put their energy into making their hometowns greater. He isn’t trying to push some unreasonable ideas for what people should do to make their communities’ better- he’s starting small and leading the movement himself- and he’s trying to get more and more local people to get involved.


If you thought you were ‘gangsta,’ you may be seriously wrong, according to this guy, who insists that to be a true gangsta you have to have a garden. You can implement this kind of program in your own community, and help others while you’re doing something great for yourself!

Do you agree with Ron Finley? Do you grow a garden? Does this inspirational idea appeal to you or make you want to get involved with a positive movement in your hometown?

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