(236518)

More than 21,000 people have signed an urgent new Care2 petition to save Ron Finley’s urban farm in South Central L.A. The petition, launched by two natural food giants—Actress Nell Newman, co-founder of Newman’s Own, and John Foraker, president of Annie’s Homegrown—started the petition to save Finley’s “gangsta garden” after learning that Finley only had seven days to save the small strip of city land in front of his residence from foreclosure. The petition calls on Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Strategic Acquisitions Inc., the company behind the foreclosure, to take action to save Finley’s organic farm, located in South Central L.A.’s food desert.

“What Ron has done is incredible, really,” Foraker told Care2. “His vision for a healthier world has not only provided nourishment, it has bolstered a community. I hope the support of my Care2 petition will convince the property owner that Ron’s project is valuable and ought to stay.”

After the previous owner of Finley’s property defaulted on its mortgage, the property changed hands, and the new owner, Strategic Acquisitions Inc., is now in the late stage of eviction proceedings against Finley—unless he buys the property for $500,000.

A GoFundMe campaign for Finley has raised more than $303,300, and Foraker, along with his wife Beth, are personally contributing $50,000 to the cause. Annie’s will also contribute $50,000 as part of the company’s longstanding support of school and community gardens. Foraker and Newman’s Care2 petition asks Peter Baer, Strategic Acquisitions founder and president, and Tony Hershman, COO, to stop eviction proceedings.

The Care2 petition also asks Mayor Eric Garcetti to put pressure on Strategic Acquisitions to do the right thing for the community.

“Ron challenges people to have a different perspective on food, to see it as something that can be organic, sustainable, and community-oriented,” said Newman, who co-founded Newman’s Own Organics: The Second Generation with her father, Paul Newman, in 1993. “It’s a shame that someone would be so predatory as to shut down such a valuable operation. But the sheer number of small donations being made to his GoFundMe and the number of Care2 petition signatures gathered gives me hope that we can save his project.”

“Care2 members have long been champions of sustainable and healthy food options,” said Randy Paynter, founder and CEO of Care2, “We’re committed to keeping the pressure on to ensure Ron’s garden can continue to provide an outlet for nourishing food and strong community ties.”

Since Finley started his garden in 2010, the city of Los Angeles has cited and fined him. Eventually, a warrant was issued for his arrest, gaining him the reputation of “Gangsta Gardener.”

His headquarters has grown into more than just a garden, and now includes an office space, an educational center and a propagation station to create more urban gardens.

View the Care2 petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/294/483/467/