Gangsta gardener

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South LA's "gangsta gardener" Ron Finley wants to bring locally-grown food to areas that desperately need it, and to change ideas about what it takes to make a healthy community. But his lush garden near the Farmdale Expo Line station is under threat because the property has been sold to investment company Strategic Acquisitions, which wants to redevelop the entire site. It was sold to them by the bank that repossessed the property.

Ron Finley in his garden in South LA
Photo by Avishay Artsy

DnA hears about Finley's efforts to raise the money to buy the property back, and gets a tour of his garden in South LA, from its sidewalk bursting with banana plants, sunflowers and a canopy of woven branches in which to shoot the breeze, to the hidden Eden in an empty swimming pool in his backyard, filled with plants in pots, old sinks, a wagon and other receptacles that capture Finley's imagination.

"My whole thing for the way I garden here and in urban areas is not for production, not for maximum yield, it's for beauty," he tells DnA. "Every sense in your body can be affected in the garden and that's what I want to do."