Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Gangster Garden Needs Your Help!!

On 22nd January 2014 I watched Ron Finley's famous Ted talk and within an hour Incredible Edible Bristol was born!! I'll always say, for as long as I live, that Incredible Edible was the deep inspiration but Ron gave me the kick up the arse to make it happen, and following meeting him at Sheffield's Festival of the Mind later that year a friendship of respect and support through social media and occasional emails has begun.
One of the beliefs Ron and I share is that when we do what we do, creating those gardens out of sad, lost spaces, that as much as being productive these spaces need to be beautiful and if you look up Ron's garden it's certainly that. A garden on a parkway, that strip of nasty lawn that's the sandwich between the road and the path, it's full of exotics, bananas, papaya, mangoes, sunflowers all year round as well as veg like sweet potatoes, corn, courgettes and more. As a designer Ron sees the need for beauty and good design. After all bad design is what led to the garden being planted in the first place, with Ron just wanting to be able to access fresh produce in his neighbourhood.
From a horticultural view I would say this adds something important to Ron's garden. Not only does it speak of the need for neighbourhoods, worldwide, to take back control of their design, it also speaks to the world of garden design and looks at making production a thing of beauty. It makes community gardening stand up and fight for it's place within the garden world. It inspires others to take control of the design of their areas. It says good garden design can change policy. 
And yet Ron's garden and the headquarters of the Ron Finley Project are at risk of being lost. Down to financial mismanagement by the previous landlord, the land now belongs to an organisation that has clearly stated the only way to secure the land is to buy it, for a cool half a million dollars......
Ron runs a community organisation and let me tell you, community organisations rarely have a spare ten pence let alone half a million dollars.
I'd like to think that if Ron's garden was in the U.K, someone might have seen the importance of the garden and worked to save it. And the reason for my thinking is that Ron's garden is a garden that is of historic importance, maybe not now, but in years to come. It's a garden that changed the law, that supported a worldwide movement and allowed Ron, the gangster gardener, to spread his extraordinary message across the globe. Ron is a doer. He is action led. A true activist who's mission is to make us all see that our world can be made so much better by using design to give us what we need. Rather than succumbing to a poor diet due to where he lives, he planted a garden, brought health to the neighbourhood by design and changed the thinking of a generation. If he was in the U.K. he'd be the ultimate ambassador for the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign, because he's both designing urban areas and changing both the place and the people's lives in a positive and action led way.
But there is no Greening Grey South Central.
So what can we do to save this historic garden of the future? Well I'm assuming no one has a spare half a million dollars but if you do, speak up!! But what we can do is make people aware. Share Ron's stories, his Ted talks and support him. You can sign this....

But most of all you can share the importance of this garden. It talks of what millions are involved with across the globe from Incredible Edible groups, to the public realm work undergone by La Campesina, to Slow Food, to the education of children around food and growing and the growing urban farming revolution that's taking place around us all!!
Below are a couple of links to things Ron has done-watch the Ted talk-it's a life changer!!
Let's save the Gangster Garden!!


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