Note from Storm:. There was a complete lack of healthy food in Ron Finley’s economically-depressed community, south central Los Angeles. Here’s how he put Los Angeles on the forefront of one the the world’s most important community revitalization trends: urban farming. The planet and its people quite simply can’t afford to be wasting precious water, real estate, and sunlight on growing useless, toxic grass lawns.
From the article: I used to drive damn near an hour round-trip to places like Culver City to find fruits and vegetables that hadn’t been grown with pesticides.
I wanted to change all of that. I wanted to rid the streets of trash. I wanted people walking down the sidewalks of my neighborhood to smell jasmine, lavender, sweet basil, and lemongrass. And I wanted healthy food options and organic fruits and vegetables for my family, my neighbors, and myself.
So, in 2010, I planted towering sunflowers, kale, and pomegranates in the 10-foot-wide, 150-foot-long parkway in front of my house—the space between the curb and the sidewalk. The beauty and color of that garden quickly attracted people (and insects).
When people saw this food literally growing along their streets, they began to see the possibilities. That same year, I founded a group with like-minded people who wanted to grow and share their own food and show others how to do it.
Then, in May 2011, I got a citation to remove my garden from the city’s Bureau of Street Services—it said that, since the city has jurisdiction over parkways, I had two options: clear the “overgrown vegetation” or purchase a $400 permit. I didn’t do either, of course. The citation turned into a warrant. I got an arrest warrant for beautifying my street—-a warrant for planting a carrot!
My first thought was: Bring it. It’s a stupid, antiquated law that needs to be changed.
In 2013, the L.A. City Council voted to change the law—it is now legal to grow food on your parkway in Los Angeles.
The last few years have been incredible. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Greece, Qatar, the United Kingdom, Stockholm, and Hawaii to speak publicly about food injustice.