Food Revolution For Inner Cities!

finleyBy Neenah Payne

Obama campaigned in 2008 on the promise of Hope and Change and assured us “Yes, We Can!” However, while the Civil Rights Movement gave us a Black President, the Black (and White) inner city poor have been left behind. This administration has cut back on food stamps and Unemployment Insurance. The article 45 million Americans rely on food stamps, 1 million about to lose them shows how critical the food situation is for many Americans.

Top Black athletes earn millions. A growing number of middle class Black Americans go to Ivy League schools and are becoming lawyers, doctors, and other professionals now. However, where is the hope for the rest of the Black community?  The article Dozens Shot Over Memorial Day Weekend As the Collapse of Chicago Accelerates shows the connection between economic collapse and violence in one city, but it is true across America. The New York Times reports that Rev. Corey Brooks, a pastor on Chicago’s South Side, said, “If something doesn’t change, if we don’t get jobs for these kids, if we don’t change the economic situation, I’m worried that we could be looking at a blood bath.

In 2008, the mega banks threatened us with riots if we didn’t give them multi-trillion dollar handouts for the financial chaos they caused. They got their unaccounted bailouts – and are still failing – threatening us now with “bail-ins”! It turned out that much of that money went to foreign banks. America’s cities can be saved for a fraction of that money—and the rewards for all of us will be quick and visible. Ron Finley and The Urban Farming guys have created the model. They just need our support to spread their revolutionary and inspiring work nationwide.

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Real Hope and Change

Ron Finley, the self-styled “Gangsta Gardener” got Los Angeles city ordinances changed to allow him to grow food in abandoned lots. His TEDx Talk has received over 2.5 million views and his work is featured in the film Urban Fruit which is available on Amazon for Instant View. Ron spoke at the fifth annual Food Revolution Summit in May that had more than 200,000 online participants from over 140 countries.

Ron uses public lands to give people healthy alternatives to fast foods that are resulting in obesity and diabetes. He plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Ron started with the strip of land in front of his house which he turned it into a garden. When the city threatened him with a warrant, he got the law changed. He is changing the lives of the people in his neighborhood — and showing that all inner cities can be transformed easily. Ron says: “When you put beauty in a place that has none, that’s a game changer.” Ron’s goal is to have the urban gardens also provide paying jobs.

Ron’s film Can You Dig This shows that gardens in the inner cities allow people to recover their sense of worth, creativity, independence, and promote a strong work ethic. The film follows the inspirational journeys of four unlikely gardeners, discovering what happens when they put their hands in the soil.

The film says: South Los Angeles. What comes to mind is gangs, drugs, liquor stores, abandoned buildings, and vacant lots. The last thing you would expect is a beautiful garden coloring the urban landscape. As part of an urban gardening movement taking root in South LA, people are planting to transform their neighborhoods and are changing their own lives in the process. Calling for people to put down their guns and pick up their shovels, these “gangster gardeners” are creating an oasis in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous places in America.

The Food Revolution Summit donated $500 to the Ron Finley Project at: and encouraged the 200,000 participants to do likewise. Funding Ron’s project is an easy way to restore our cities quickly and inexpensively. As Finley says, he may be rescuing the next George Washington Carver!

The Urban Farming Guys: Farmin’ in The Hood

The video “Farmin’ in The Hood” shows that The Urban Farming Guys quickly transformed a VERY tough neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri with almost no money by using urban gardens.

YouTube says:

Epic story of about 20 families uprooted from suburbia and made their homes for good in one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the U.S. Lykins Neighborhood 64127 Inner City KCMO. And the game is changing! Together as Lykins Neighborhood, we believe there is hope. Crime is dropping! 21% over the last 2 years and the adventure continues. Aquaponics, Neighborhood Transformation, Permaculture, Urban Farming, and lots of fun taking back the neighborhood.

farmin in the hoodPolicy Change For Food and Hope

John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth said in his Food Revolution Summit that food policies need to change so our taxes support good food and health. He pointed out that cities should encourage people to grow organic gardens like the Victory Gardens during WWI and WWII.

Senator Cory Booker’s theme at the Food Revolution Summit was “Sane Food Policy: We Can Do It.”  The Food Revolution Summit says: “Senator Booker is a dedicated advocate for healthier lunches and better nutritional education in schools, for community gardens and farmer’s markets, and for increasing access to healthy food in low income communities.”

For his 2012 “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Challenge,” Senator Booker tried to feed himself healthfully for a week on the $33 allocation given to SNAP (food stamp) recipients… his experiment made him an even more passionate advocate for healthier food in poor communities. Widely regarded as one of the most popular political leaders in the United States, Cory will give you his top tips for building a healthy food community.”

His book United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good has 5 stars on Amazon with 70 reviews.

Amazon says:

Cory Booker is the junior United States senator from New Jersey. A star high school athlete, Booker received a football scholarship to Stanford University where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar before earning his law degree from Yale University. Graduating from Yale, his options were limitless.

He chose public service. He chose to move to a rough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, where he worked as a tenants’ rights lawyer before winning a seat on the City Council. In 2006, he was elected mayor, and for more than seven years, he was the public face of an American city that had gone decades with too little positive national attention and investment. In 2013, Booker became the first African American elected to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate. Booker lives in Newark’s Central Ward.

Inner City Garden Corps

In the 1960s, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps to foster good will by sending Americans around the world to help with projects like digging wells. Today, we need an Internal Peace Corps in the form of a Garden Corps for the inner cities. It would show that Black Lives Matter, but it helps all people. It’s urgent to implement this initiative because an increasing number of analysts are predicting an economic collapse this year worse than the one in 2008.

Ron Finley and The Urban Farming Guys have shown that urban gardens make profound changes quickly with just a little money. Ron says he is not just growing food, but people and communities. The money spent on urban gardens would be saved as people become less dependent on food stamps. The rapid reduction in crime The Urban Farming Guys report saves on policing and incarceration costs.

In addition, growing food in the cities cuts down on fossil fuel consumption as food transportation accounts for 30% of our energy costs. Ron Finley and The Urban Farming Guys are showing how cities can be self-empowered. They are examples of the urban gardens revolutionizing many cities now as shown in my Urban Gardens Revolution site.

New York and other cities provide grants for green roofs to help resolve sewer overflow. Cities, states, and the federal government should fund urban gardens to help solve the problems of the inner cities. The Issues and Solutions Map in my site shows how closely food security is linked to health, democracy, freedom, and peace.

I call on Senator Booker to fund the Ron Finley Project and The Urban Farming Guys. Senator Booker’s inspiring autobiography and his focus on Sane Food Policy suggest that these are projects he would love to support! Perhaps he could start with 2 sites in Newark this month to provide time for a harvest this year. As other cities see Newark’s rapid transformation, they will fund similar projects. As this initiative spreads quickly across America, imagine the hope and change!

How You Can Help

  1. Call Senator Booker’s office at (202) 224-3224 to let him know you support this initiative.
  2. Ask your senators to fund these programs for cities in your state.
  3. Donate to the Ron Finley Project and to The Urban Farming Guys as individuals, groups, churches, schools, and other organizations.
  4. Check the Urban Gardens Revolution site and start growing some of your own food!
  5. Encourage others to grow food for security, better nutrition, and fun!

Let’s invest in America today! The alternative is to watch one American city after another collapse in hopelessness and explode in violence. If we can blindly hand over trillions of dollars to rescue failed policies of foreign banks, we can spend a little money to fund proven techniques that will quickly renovate our cities. America can do better. Yes, we can.

cory booker

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