As ridiculous as it sounds, growing food on government land is an illegal practice in many cities and towns across the U.S. But not everyone desires – or has the means – to pay an extraordinary amount on fruits and vegetables just to maintain their health.
For this reason, a growing percentage of the populace has begun planting foods near their home and on lesser-visited plots of land in the city. Known as Guerrilla gardening, this practice has been deemed illegal, as the food foragers do not have a permit to grow a garden – even if they are only trying to use the Earth to its fullest capacity.
Such was the case for Ron Finley, who, four years ago, was given an arrest warrant for planting carrots outside of his home on a small strip of city-owned land. Even though he was required to maintain the plot of land, the city mandated that he must first purchase a $400 permit to grow a garden – something he refused.
After quite a bit of media coverage brought awareness to his predicament, the warrant was later revoked. The project gathered an immense amount of support, however, and inspired others to continue guerrilla gardening throughout the city. In response, the city of Los Angeles finally changed its policy: Under a new law, the city will allow free gardens next to sidewalks.
As FastCoExist reported, Finley had some words to share about the new development:
“In some of these neighborhoods, that’s the only place people have to plant. Between the concrete, asphalt, and chain link fences, they don’t have any other places. To me, it’s about making food hyperlocal. Not just local, hyperlocal.”
“It’s about being self-sustaining,” Finley says. “It’s about you changing your life and being responsible for your health, and for your community. It’s you taking a stand that this is mine. … We’ve basically been enslaved by food companies, and they’re killing us slowly. There’s other means and other ways to supply food.”
Other activists seeking to raise awareness about similar issues include legendary music icon Neil Young, who in his latest album “The Monsanto Years” tackled head on the biotech company and its misguided doings. Finley and Young are both great examples of how we each need to “be the change”we wish to see in the world, for until we step up and demand rights – or fight the system which may be operating under corrupt and outdated laws – nothing will change.
Finley shared this sentiment in a Ted Talk (below):
“I’m the simplest man you know,” he says. “I’m not one of those academics that don’t do shit but reads about it. The difference is, I do shit. I have a proof of concept and it works. I don’t need studies—I know that this kid put a carrot in the ground and she saw it grow, and she took it out of the ground and was proud as hell, and she wiped it off and put it in her mouth and ate it. Now she has skin in the game.”
The new ordinance will go into effect next month.
This story was originally published on True Activist.