Ron Finley

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Ron Finley
Occupation(s)Fashion designer
Urban gardener
Known forGuerilla gardening

Ron Finley is a Los Angeles-based fashion designer to professional athletes,[1][page needed][2][3] collector of original blaxploitation posters,[4][5] and proponent of urban gardening.[6][7] He is known for giving a widely-viewed TED talk on guerilla gardening.[8][9]


Finley began his career by creating his first collection called the Dropdead Collexion in his own garage. It ended up being popular with commonly known and high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstroms, and Neiman Marcus.[10] Celebrities soon became attracted to his original ideas and designs. Ron Finley also collects memorabilia of Black entertainment which has allowed him to own a collection of his own preservation of history. His collection includes movie posters that enable the audience to see the progression of Black people in the movie industry.

Finley's poster collection was featured in Miramax's book on the era, What It Is, What It Was.[11]

Urban farming[edit]

In 2010, Finley dug up a strip of land between his house and the street and started planting fruits and vegetables. It was illegal to plant these on the land between the sidewalk and curb but he got the city of Los Angeles to change the law.[12] The “Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines” were changed to end fines for vegetable gardens within the strip owned by the city.[13]

In early 2013, Finley gave a TED talk on his progress as a "guerrilla gardener," the dangers of food deserts, and the potential for his program to improve quality of life. He said in the talk, "If kids grow kale, kids eat kale; if they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes."[8] The talk has received over three million views on the TED web site,[9] and attracted attention from numerous celebrities and collaboration proposals from corporations.[14]

After his TED talk, Finley developed a gardening training facility under the name of The Ron Finley Project in South Central Los Angeles.[15] His guerilla gardening efforts have had modest success in persuading city officials to cooperate, but remain officially illegal under city code.[16][17] In 2016, The Ron Finley Project was told they had to buy the property hosting their garden for $500,000, or it would be shut down. A fundraising campaign ensued.[18][7] The campaign got the attention of natural food companies, and the original $500,000 goal was surpassed.[19][20]

Finley has appeared in several documentary films about urban farming, including Urban Fruit[21] and Can You Dig This.[22]

Finley refers to himself as a "gangsta gardener", explaining, "Gardening is gangsta. Drugs, robbing—that's not gangsta. Building community—that's gangsta. I'm changing the vernacular."[6][23]

Finley is the teacher in a Masterclass[24] that came out on Earth Day of 2020, April 22. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, his class for home growing food was “one of the most popular” according to David Schrieber, chief marketing officer for Masterclass.

Ron Finley created initially started gardening to decrease the effects of the food apartheid in which his own neighborhood existed, encourage healthy eating habits, and beautify the land. Finley encourages people of all backgrounds – not just the poor – to grow their own food. He is a self titled “ecolutionary — someone who gives a f— about this planet and is fighting for it.”[25] He believes that “health is not just what you eat. It’s what you see, what you smell, what you feel.”[26]

Personal life[edit]

Finley grew up in South Los Angeles, with seven siblings.[14] He has three sons.[14]


  1. ^ An Overall View of the Baggy Pants- Bib Look, Los Angeles Times, September 3, 1998.
  2. ^ Herman-Cohen, Valli (June 9, 2000). "Lakers and Their Fans Give Fashion a Full Court Press". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  3. ^ Stars sport superfly styles, CNN, August 8, 2002.
  4. ^ Black Films and their Posters Depict African-Americans' Cultural Past, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 25, 1999.
  5. ^ Poster Child, Black Enterprise, August 2002.
  6. ^ a b Simmons, Andy. "Meet the Gangsta Gardener". Reader's Digest. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "'Gangster Gardener' In Jeopardy Of Losing His Farm". CBS Los Angeles. April 4, 2017. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA". TED. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Crouch, Angie (April 5, 2015). "Guerrilla Gardener Sparks Food Revolution in South Central LA". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Aghajanian, Liana (March 14, 2014). "Ron Finley: South Central L.A.'s Guerilla Gardener". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Martinez, Gerald; Martínez, Diana; Chavez, Andres (1998), What it is, what it was!: The Black film explosion of the '70s in words and pictures, Hyperion, ISBN 978-0-7868-8377-6.
  12. ^ Weston, Phoebe (April 28, 2020). "'This is no damn hobby': the 'gangsta gardener' transforming Los Angeles". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  13. ^ May, Kate Torgovnick (August 16, 2013). "No more citations for curbside veggies in Los Angeles". TED Blog. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c Hochman, David (May 3, 2013). "Urban Gardening: An Appleseed With Attitude". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  15. ^ Appleton, Andrea (August 13, 2013). "L.A.'s Ron Finley wants to make gardening gangsta". Grist. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Karp, Hannah (March 8, 2013). "Growing Pains for Curbside Farming". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  17. ^ Rabeler, Katrina (July 30, 2013). ""Renegade Gardener" Plots World Domination Through Home-Grown Veggies". Yes! Magazine. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  18. ^ Swann, Jennifer (January 6, 2017). "South L.A. "Gangsta Gardener" Ron Finley Fights to Save His Garden From Eviction". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  19. ^ Strom, Stephanie (April 6, 2017). "Fighting Eviction, a Gardener Turns to Organic Industry Giants for Help". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  20. ^ Villarreal, Mireya (April 9, 2017). ""Gangsta Gardener" Ron Finley fights to save urban farm from eviction". CBS News. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  21. ^ Ruffin, Monique (February 9, 2015). "Urban Fruit Documentary Film". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  22. ^ Linden, Sheri (June 12, 2015). "'Can You Dig This': LAFF Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  23. ^ "How 'Gangster Gardener' Ron Finley Started a Food Revolution from His Front Yard". Yahoo News. June 29, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  24. ^ "Ron Finley Teaches Gardening". Masterclass.
  25. ^ Marantos, Jeanette (July 10, 2020). "For MasterClass' Ron Finley, growing a garden is a revolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  26. ^ Schmidt, Mackenzie (June 29, 2020). "How 'Gangster Gardener' Ron Finley Started a Food Revolution from His Front Yard". People Magazine. Retrieved November 30, 2020.

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