Ron finley

Growing your own food is like printing your own money. That was the message of one pioneering farmer in the United States who has started a one-man campaign to teach whole communities of kids to grow their own fruit and veg. Ron Finley, has affectionately been called  the “guerilla gardener” of South Central LA. He is also founder of the Ron Finley Project.

He believes that the key to good health is in your garden and that it is important to create your own wealth (food) by sowing the seeds today will reap you dividends of rewards later in green currency (i.e kale, spinach, fruits, etc).

Finley said: “It’s my gospel. I’m tellin’ people grow your own food. Growing your own food is like printing money. I have witnessed my garden become a tool for the transformation of my neighborhood. To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil. Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do. Especially in the inner city.”

By creating ‘food forests’ Finley believes that communities can grow their own live foods that prevent disease, inspire communities and give rise to self-reliance.

However, jobsworths with nothing better to do have previously tried to destroy his garden.

He explained: “I planted a food forest in front of my house. The city came down on me, and gave me a citation saying that I had to remove my garden. And this citation turned into a warrant. A warrant for planting food.”

But after highlighting his plight publicly with the support of the LA Times and local campaigners, the local authorities finally backed down.

He believes that by encouraging kids to invest their time into growing their own food – they are not only more likely to eat it but will also sustain the habits and health benefits that come with that.

He says: “It’s simple yet elegant: get kids involved in growing their own food and you simultaneously improve their health, their self-reliance and their dignity, all while giving them the freedom to extricate themselves from the processed food factories that would enslave us all if we allow them. To have the skills and confidence to grow your own food is to live as a free man, even as a system of food dependence and spiraling disease tries to suck you in and victimize you for its own corporate profit.

“What I’m talking about is putting people to work and getting kids off the street and letting them know the joy, the pride and the honor in growing your own food.”

But for some reason, officials in America don’t like people growing their own food. In 2011, gardener Julie Bass from Michigan had all charges dropped against her after her local council accused her of “illegal gardening.”

She was threatened with 93 days in the clink for having the audacity to try to grow cucumbers, and tomatoes in her front yard.

In an interview with Natural News, Julie said: “The city council recently suggested they should make a rule that everyone in Oak Park now has to run every single landscaping decision by the city council before they can do it. They’ve just reacted time and time again by digging in their heels and getting more draconian and trying to make even more absurd statements.

“I never really realized how involved in your life the city government could get. I never realized it would turn into this beast that could persecute you and be very shameless in their desire to basically squash you like a bug.

“This was just a really eye-opening experience about how many things the government does that fly under the radar. No one pays attention, no one thinks it will ever affect [them]… so I think this is a good wakeup call for us to just pay attention, and be more aware, and don’t fall asleep at the switch or they’ll run stuff by you that you’ll just wake up with your jar hanging open, like oh my God what happened?”

“I hope it really does have a positive effect on government, to remind them that they are accountable to the people they work for. And to remind people that you can stand up. You can stand your ground. I’m glad that I didn’t back down. I’m glad that I can show other people that you can just be a regular stay-at-home mom, but yet I was able to make my feelings carry some weight.”

However, other gardeners in the US were not so lucky. Denise Morrison of Tulsa, Oklahoma saw her entire medicinal landscape destroyed by overzealous and authoritarian city officials.

These cases certainly raise some interesting questions. Just why is the US government so keen to prevent people from gardening? Is there something sinister under the radar that ordinary men and women are not privy to?

But for Finley, the future will always be in gardening. For him, growing your own food is not just liberating – it’s artistic and it’s gangster.

He said: “I want us all to become ecolutionaries, renegades, gangster gardeners. We gotta flip the script on what a gangster is. If you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t a gangster. Be a gangster with your shovel, and let that be your weapon of choice.

“I’m an artist. Gardening is my graffiti. I grow my art. I use the garden soil like it’s a piece of cloth, and the plants and the trees, that’s my embellishment for that cloth. You’d be surprised what the soil can do if you let it be your canvas.”

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