Gangsta Gardener Ron Finley will be at the Los Angeles Times' Culinary stage cooking for The Taste audience at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
This story describes his success in growing organic produce in South L.A.:
Ron Finley is standing in the deep end of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The pool is empty, has been empty for years, the water long ago replaced by an elaborate garden. The garden overflows the geometry of the pool, growing up the sides, in and out of buckets and boxes and pails, around brightly painted artwork and a mural painted by one of Finley’s three grown sons, two of whom are artists. Above the pool there’s a network of more buckets, shopping carts planted with strawberries, a system of compost bins, beds of kale and oxalis, a nectarine tree growing in a layer of 18 inches of soil above concrete. Butterflies and hummingbirds dart through a pomegranate tree. If you didn’t know it, you’d think you were somewhere in the tropics, someplace like Macondo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s imaginary, lush, butterfly-filled town — not in South Los Angeles where Finley grew up and lives, a few hundred yards from the Farmdale Expo station.