Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Transform a Food Desert into a Food Forest in South-Central L.A.

Here is a great 11-minute video from TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, featuring artist and designer Ron Finley, who talks about the transformation of his neighborhood in South-Central Los Angeles from “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by" to a healthy, accessible “food forest.” The project started with the curbside veggie garden he planted in the strip of dirt in front of his own house. When the city tried to shut it down, Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education -- and healthy, hopeful futures -- one urban garden at a time. 

Check out this excerpt of the transcript of the video:

Just like 26.5 million other Americans, I live in a food desert, South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by. Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys. People are dying from curable diseases in South Central Los Angeles. For instance, the obesity rate in my neighborhood is five times higher than, say, Beverly Hills, which is probably eight, 10 miles away.  I got tired of seeing this happening. And I was wondering, how would you feel if you had no access to healthy food, if every time you walk out your door you see the ill effects that the present food system has on your neighborhood?

So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house. It was on a strip of land that we call a parkway. It's 150 feet by 10 feet. Thing is, it's owned by the city. But you have to maintain it. So I'm like, "Cool. I can do whatever the hell I want, since it's my responsibility and I gotta maintain it." And this is how I decided to maintain it.

So me and my group, L.A. Green Grounds, we got together and we started planting my food forest, fruit trees, you know, the whole nine, vegetables. What we do, we're a pay-it-forward kind of group, where it's composed of gardeners from all walks of life, from all over the city, and it's completely volunteer, and everything we do is free. And the garden, it was beautiful.

If you want to see the full transcript, click on this link of the video on the TED site.  Right below the screen on the right-hand side,  you get a drop-down menu to access the transcript in English and 21 other languages).

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