Culture TED Talks

Ron Finley inspires a young gardener clear across the country

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David Lozano of San Antonio was inspired to plant a community garden after watching Ron Finley’s talk. Photo: courtesy of David Lozano

Ron Finley is motivating people across the country to pick up a shovel and “get gangsta” by planting fruits, vegetables and herbs in their neighborhood.

Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA Ron Finley: A guerrilla gardener in South Central LA Since appearing on the TED2013 stage to talk about why he plants edible gardens in the nooks and crannies of South Central Los Angeles, Finley has been profiled in The New York Times and appeared on Russell Brand’s talk show, BrandX. On Saturday, Finley was featured in this CBS News segment, which tells the story of Terence Satler, a 20-year-old who once dreamed of playing football but now is in culinary school. He says that gardening alongside Finley taught him the joy of food. “The most extensive knowledge I’ve acquired so far has been through Ron’s garden,” Satler tells the CBS cameras. “He has things you would never see. Especially in my ‘hood.”

We in the TED office are also hearing stories of those influenced by Finley to pick up a trowel. In April, David Lozano of San Antonio watched Finley’s talk and wrote the gardener, saying, “I saw you on TED yesterday and have watched [your talk] three times since … Needless to say my household is going to plant a food garden for everyone to enjoy. We live just two miles south of the Alamo in San Antonio… How do you deal with stray dogs digging up the garden? And could you give me a suggestion what kind of herbs and vegetables you would have a novice gardener plant?”

Last week, Lozano wrote Finley to share an update, with images attached. “These pictures are of everything when it was planted last month. In the whiskey barrel, we planted zucchini. We decided to not plant directly in the ground due to the metal recycling plants refuse in the air close to our house,” he wrote. “The neighborhood grocery store has been planted for a month now. We are getting our first jalapeños.”


Lozano’s zucchini, planted in a whiskey barrel. Photo: courtesy of David Lozano


More herbs and vegetables in a planter. Photo: David Lozano