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Ron Finley’s Da FUNction Kicks Off Effort to Transform South L.A. Food Landscape

3:05 PM PDT on June 12, 2015

Support for the transformation of the state of South L.A.'s food landscape seems to be gaining some traction.

As we noted two weeks ago, food justice crusaders Community Services Unlimited will be opening an organic produce market, cafe, and community gathering space in the coming months to fill the much-needed gap in healthy options in the area.

It's a cause that even Aloe Blacc was able to get behind, as seen in the video below.

But CSU is not the only one looking to improve the food landscape in the area.

Self-described "gangsta gardener" Ron Finley -- the man whose quest to create a "food forest" in the parkways outside his South L.A. home eventually led to a city ordinance allowing the curbside planting of produce -- has his own project targeting the Vermont Square public library.

The library, located at 48th and Budlong Streets, sits on a rather large parcel of land that is underutilized. While the area immediately behind the library is sometimes used as a makeshift soccer field on summer evenings (thanks to the outdoor lighting), the grassy area beyond it tends to be used primarily by homeless folks.

Google maps view of the Vermont Square library. The proposed garden would go behind the library (sitting at bottom, right). The library also sits adjacent to a park which is already a gathering space for the community.
Google maps view of the Vermont Square library. The proposed garden would go behind the library (sitting at bottom, right). The library also sits adjacent to a park. Activation of the library land might help keep the park more active, too.
Google maps view of the Vermont Square library. The proposed garden would go behind the library (sitting at bottom, right). The library also sits adjacent to a park which is already a gathering space for the community.

Hoping to make the space more active and accessible for all, Finley has re-envisioned the space as one hosting a garden, possibly a cafe, and ongoing health-oriented activities. To launch his effort to bring this vision to life, he is hosting (together with the L.A. Design Festival) a day of fun at the site.

Calling the event Da FUNction, Finley is hoping neighbors will come out to spend a day participating in yoga, zumba, wood working, gardening, cooking, and other creative workshops and throw their support behind the future transformation of the space.

Da FUNction schedule. Click to enlarge.
Da FUNction schedule. Click to enlarge.
Da FUNction schedule. Click to enlarge.

According to the Design Festival, there will also be food trucks, music, and a blood drive.

If you can't make the event and want to learn more about the gardening landscape in South L.A., you can take an uplifting look at the efforts of Finley and three other South L.A. gardeners to transform their neighborhoods via Can You Dig This?, a documentary screening at the L.A. Film Festival on June 16.

For more information on Ron Finley and Da FUNction, visit the Ron Finley Project page. To support CSU's effort to launch their organic market, please visit their fundraising page.

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