When Food is the Problem, Food is the Solution

I was recently inspired to create my very own vegetable garden after watching Ron Finley’s Ted Talk on gardening. You can watch the Ted Talk – here

Ron explains the poor health of residents in South Central LA, where obesity rates are five times higher than other areas of LA and people are dying from curable diseases. He calls it a ‘food desert’ and ‘land of the drive thru’ and describes the neighbourhood as consisting of liquor stores, fast food and vacant lots – which paints a very unappealing picture in our minds.

Ron envisions a cultural revolution through community gardening, which empowers individuals and families to grow their own food.

Ron runs a volunteer group called LA Green Grounds which consists of volunteer gardens from all over the city that are dedicated to planting gardens on nature strips. These are owned by the public but maintained by the home-owner.


He explains that LA owns 26 square miles of vacant lots, which is equivalent to 20 central parks. This is enough land to grow 725 million tomato plants. He proposes ‘growing your own food is like printing your own money.’

It makes healthy food accessible and affordable and children are encouraged to get involved in growing their own food. Why? Because kids will eat what they grow and they need to be shown for themselves how food affects the mind and body.

If all kids were to learn the joy, pride and honour in growing food, there would be a true cultural shift towards healthy eating.

Gardening can be a tool for transformation of a community and it is therapeutic, especially in the inner city.

“Our reality was manufactured for us but why not take charge and manufacture our own reality,” proposed Ron.

Ron Finley is an artist and says gardening is his graffiti. Ron envisions gardening as appealing to the cool kids, if it’s portrayed in the right light.

“If you aint a gardener, you aint gangsta. Be gangsta with your shovel and let that be your weapon of choice,” said Ron.

About the author

Kim Logan