BY: KAROUN CHAHINIAN
We’re living in a fast food apocalypse. Considering you need to make a down payment on a salad these days due to high fruit and vegetable prices, getting a fast and cheap burger for lunch has become a popular choice continent-wide.
More and more American families are struggling to afford nutritious food. One creative solution to avoid breaking the bank on fruits and veggies is Guerrilla Gardening: the act of planting produce on someone else’s land, specifically, city-owned land.
It’s weird to think that planting fruits and vegetables is against the law, but this week, the city of Los Angeles has legalized guerrilla gardening and a special thanks is owed to Ron Finley, an urban gardener from South L.A. who helped make it a reality.
Thanks to urban gardener Ron Finley, guerilla gardening is now legal in L.A.
Four years ago, Finley was given an arrest warrant for planting a garden on the strip of city-owned land in front of his home. Finley’s neighbourhood in South L.A. is known as a food desert. The only thing near his house is fast food, and driving for half an hour to be able to consume food free from pesticides or fry-batter drenched produce is not ideal, so Finley kept up the fight and refused to pay for the mandatory $400 gardening permit.
When given an arrest warrant for planting a garden on city-owned land, Finley refused to pay for the mandatory $400 gardening permit.
His story caught the attention of multiple media publications, including the L.A. Times, and sparked an urban gardening trend, which took over the city streets. As a result, the government revoked his warrant and passed a new law to eliminate the ban on guerrilla gardens, which will be implemented next month.
“In some of these neighbourhoods, that’s the only place people have to plant,” said Finley. “Between the concrete, asphalt, and chain link fences, they don’t have any other places. To me, it’s about making food hyperlocal. Not just local, hyperlocal.”
Finley also explained in a TED talk that South L.A. has 26 square miles worth of city-owned lots. To put into perspective that adds up to the size of 20 Central Parks, which can grow up to 725,838,400 tomato plants.
Not only has Finley changed the law, he has encouraged many to join him in growing their own food.
“Growing one plant will give you 10,000 seeds. One dollar worth of green beans will give you $75 worth of produce,” Finley said. “It’s my gospel. Grow your own food. Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”
“It’s my gospel. Grow your own food. Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”
“You see I’m an artist. Gardening is my graffiti. Graffiti artists beautify walls, me? I beautify lawns and parkways,” said Finley in the TED talk. “It’s about you changing your life and being responsible for your health, and for your community. It’s you taking a stand [and] this is mine. We’ve basically been enslaved by food companies and they’re killing us slowly. There’s other means and other ways to supply food.”
“It’s about you changing your life and being responsible for your health, and for your community. It’s you taking a stand [and] this is mine.
It’s easy to follow the path society has paved for us, but there are healthier alternatives out there, and what’s a better way to find out what chemicals you are mindlessly ingesting than growing your food yourself?