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Who is the Gangsta Gardener

July 13, 2018

If you’re one of the three million plus folk who have watched his TED talk on guerrilla gardening, you’ll know exactly who we’re talking about, but if you haven’t it’s about time you got acquainted: meet Ron Finley, a.k.a. the Gangsta Gardener. He’s coming to this year’s Visa Wellington On a Plate for four special events, and we’re pretty flippin’ excited.

Growing some shit in L.A

Anyone that has the motto ‘plant some shit’ is someone we want to be mates with.

Outraged and saddened at the lack of fresh produce available while living in what was then-called South Central L.A., Ron set about planting vegetables and flowers on the grassy verge in front of his house. So far, so good. Until he was issued with an arrest warrant.

Fast forward seven years and Ron’s garden has taken over his backyard and swimming pool, plus the neighbour’s yard. He started a not-for-profit called the Ron Finley Project with the mission of taking urban gardening not only to South L.A., but to the world – including our little corner of it.

The Ron Finley Project is dedicated to empowering urban communities to embrace gardening and to inspire the next generation – gardening is what all the cool kids are doing these days. If Ron has his way (and we really hope he does), no unused parking lot, vacant concrete pathway or laneway is safe from pumpkins, peas and parsnips. Get set to be inspired, Wellington.

Meet Ron this Visa WOAP 2018

Feast Your Eyes: Can You Dig This

Enjoy nibbles, a beverage and settle in for a very special viewing of Ron’s documentary, Can You Dig This, followed by a Q&A session with the Gangsta Gardener himself. Proceeds from your ticket go towards Kahurangi School in Miramar’s new orchard project.

Can You Dig This intertwines multiple stories of people in Compton, South L.A, all connected by urban gardening. From Hosea Smith who is trying to find his way after 30 years in prison, to Quimonie Lewis the eight-year old entrepreneur beyond her years, they find joy and opportunity through urban gardening, under the tutelage of Ron. Ultimately this is Ron's story, showing the power of gardening – we’re now convinced that all you need is seeds, a little soil, water and love to provide for you and your community

The Gangsta Food Gathering

The Common Unity Project in Lower Hutt are bringing Ron’s vision to life in Wellington’s own backyard. Join Common Unity and Ron for a tour of their farm, then roll up your sleeves and summon your inner artist to help paint a new mural on their warehouse walls. Then it’s time to kick back and relax with a glass of bubbles followed by a feast of dishes prepared by locals using produce from Hutt Valley micro-farms.

Every ticket sold gives entry to an adult/child who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to attend a Visa WOAP event and all profits get reinvested into local food projects.

He Kai, He Whenua

Happily brought to you by Hutt City Council, Te Awakairangi Health Network and Healthy Families Lower Hutt., this family-friendly pop-up (tickets not required, free entry) in Wainuiomata is an informal opportunity to learn top tips from Ron Finley and the team on how to grow and get the best out of your vegetable garden.

Hiakai Hāngi

Ron is also lending a hand in this gourmet Hāngi feast, led by Wellington’s very own Monique Fiso – limited tickets still available so get in quick!

Proudly brought to you by Kono, who know a thing or two themselves about fresh produce, who oversee Motueka orchards growing apples, kiwifruit, pears and hops.