Update, August 1, 2017: Since our last Avocado Fest, Ron Finley Project’s headquarters was under threat of being acquired by a developer who was looking to purchase the property from the loan holder. The load holder tried to get some modifications to the load, but was unsuccessful and presented Ron with the only solution they had- buy the property outright from them for $500,00. Ron Finely Project ended up starting a Go Fund Me project to help get funding and successfully raised over $500,000 to save the property and purchased it outright from Strategic Acquisitions Inc. Come meet the team from the Ron Finley Project at the 2017 Avocado Fest!
“We gotta make this sexy.”
Ron Finley isn’t talking about a new ad campaign. Or a brand new product. He’s not talking about a model shoot either.
He’s talking about soil.
“You’d be surprised what the soil can do if you let it be your canvas. To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil – we are the soil.”
He’s talking literally. Ron Finley was sick of traveling 45 minutes from his home in South Central to get fresh fruits and vegetables, free of pesticide. So he took matters into his own hands, and began building a garden on the parkway, the small sidewalk area in between his home and the street. Although the city of Los Angeles owns the parkway, residents are required by law to upkeep this area and keep it in good repair. For Ron, he saw this as an opportunity to create a small garden.
“He didn’t intend to spark the revolution the he has,” says Ashleigh Carter, Executive Assistant at the Ron Finley Project, his non-profit that this act of rebellion spawned. “That was just a byproduct of what he needed to do for himself and for his community to set an example.”
Why the revolution? Because when he built that garden, somebody complained, and the city fined him for it. But the community fought back – 900 people quickly signed a petition to keep the city from removing the garden and kept the revolution going.
And now, his organization, The Ron Finley Project, is building gardens all over the food deserts of South Central LA in hopes of inspiring a horticultural revolution. Everywhere from sidewalks, to homeless shelters, to now – Angel City Brewery.
At this year’s Avocado Festival, The Ron Finley Project will be exhibiting some of the creative ways they’ve used space to grow plants. “The number one impediment to urban gardening is space, especially in the concrete jungles of LA,” says Carter, “so you really have to get creative – Here at the garden, we plant in everything – we have a problem with shopping carts in the community being left everywhere. So we take the shopping carts and we plant in them, which is really cool because it’s not fixed to the ground – you can move it to wherever the sun is. Plant in a boot or a bra if you need to.”
They’ll be spreading the gospel of urban gardening while Toons One, a street artist who prefers the term “style writer,” will be live painting a new piece at the festival.
As Finley says, “Gardening is my graffiti. I grow my art. Just like a graffiti artist, where they beautify walls, I beautify lawns, parkways.”
And on a day that celebrates the release of its most asked for beer, Angel City is donating $1 of every Avocado Ale sold during Avocado Fest to the Ron Finley Project, to help them with their goal of building a new urban garden in South Central. Because as Ron says, “We gotta flip the script – if you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta. Be gangsta with your shovel – let that be your weapon of choice.”