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Ron Finley’s MasterClass Review: Gangsta Gardener

Ron Finley’s mission of growing food on the sidewalk has helped make concrete jungle green. In this review, we'll look into the lessons he has to share for both gardening and community empowerment.

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Ron Finley’s MasterClass: Our Verdict (2023)


4.6 / 5

In his MasterClass, Ron Finley shows how urban gardening can play a crucial role in addressing a pressing use – the need for food. The course offers invaluable insights into cultivating flourishing gardens in limited urban spaces. His practical wisdom, hands-on techniques, and visionary perspective on sustainability make this class a must for both beginners and experienced gardeners. I recommend this short course to those who are concerned with food insecurity, as well as anyone with a passion for gardening, sustainability, or community empowerment.


  • Inspiring vision
  • Practical techniques
  • Community building
  • Excellent production value
  • Educational course handbook


  • Limited personal interaction
  • Cost of subscription
  • Beginner skill level

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I initially discovered Ron Finley and his innovative urban food forest project through online news articles. The idea of converting neglected sidewalk spaces in urban areas into flourishing food gardens struck me as a noble approach to sustainability. To my delight, Ron’s MasterClass, titled “Ron Finley Teaches Gardening,” dives into his vision and projects and how to succeed with plant cultivation in challenging spaces.

While I already have gardening experience, I believe there’s always room for improvement. Ron’s teachings promise to reveal the intricacies of gardening, offer valuable tips, and provide insights drawn from his personal experiences in cultivating various crops. In any case, I’m enthusiastic about reviewing his MasterClass, with the aim of grasping his broader goals of sustainable living, understanding his gardening methods, and hopefully gaining expertise in growing food.

In this review, the question I aim to address is: how effectively does Ron Finley’s MasterClass empower learners to cultivate sustainable, thriving gardens in urban environments?

Table of Contents

Overview of Ron Finley’s MasterClass

Ron Finley Teaches Gardening” is an online course on MasterClass that immerses learners in the world of urban gardening and sustainability. It delves into the heart of Ron Finley’s pioneering work in transforming overlooked urban spaces into vibrant food gardens.

Its primary goal is to equip learners with the knowledge and skills needed to cultivate sustainable, bountiful gardens, even in the limited confines of urban environments. At its core, the course highlights the significance of urban gardening in promoting sustainability by utilizing unused urban areas to grow food.

It shines a spotlight on the role that individuals and communities can play in addressing food scarcity, environmental conservation, and promoting healthier, locally sourced produce. Furthermore, the course emphasizes the importance of urban gardening in the context of sustainability, encouraging us to view urban spaces as opportunities for positive change.

It tackles food insecurity, reduces carbon footprints, and promotes community resilience. Through this course, participants gain a deeper appreciation for how urban gardening can be a powerful force for environmental and social well-being.

Ron’s MasterClass comprises 10 video lessons accompanied by a practical course handbook. The entire course has a duration of just over two hours. While some may find this relatively short, Ron packs a wealth of practical wisdom and motivational messages into his inspiring vision and project, all of which are captured in his online course.

Ron Finley as an instructor

Ron Finley in the garden
Ron Finley in the garden

Ron Finley isn’t merely a green thumb; he’s also a visionary advocate for sustainability and community empowerment. His journey began by planting vegetables in the neighborhood parkways of South Central, Los Angeles. This act led to a citation for gardening without a permit, but it didn’t deter him; he fought back and won. Through this audacious act of sidewalk vegetable vandalism, he ignited a movement advocating for the right to grow food in neighborhoods. Ron gained widespread recognition as the “Gangsta Gardener” and became a prominent figure in urban gardening and food justice circles.

Ron’s dynamic teaching style and passionate storytelling make his MasterClass both engaging and informative. His relatable anecdotes and practical advice inspire learners to recognize the potential in their own urban environments, making his MasterClass a valuable resource for those looking to make a positive impact in their urban communities through gardening.

Whether discussing soil composition or championing change, Ron’s presence and delivery play a vital role in shaping this MasterClass into a transformative experience for those interested in gardening, sustainability, and community activism.

In particular, I found Ron’s laid-back personality, burning passion for gardening, and knack for simplifying the art of plant cultivation inspiring. Much like Ron, I aspire to become a “Gangsta Gardener.” 

What does Ron Finley’s MasterClass cover?

Ron Finley’s MasterClass is designed to empower us with the knowledge and skills necessary to cultivate thriving gardens within urban landscapes. With a focus on practicality, it covers a wide range of topics, including soil preparation, creative use of space, plant selection, and pest management.

You will be informed on how to grow specific crops like legumes, sweet potatoes, and herbs, among many others. I appreciate Ron’s focus on edible plants because it serves as great reinforcements for those who are growing for the first time; they can directly enjoy their produce after following the instructions.  

Additionally, Ron delves into other areas of the gardening cycle. Specifically, here’s what you can expect:

  • Fundamentals of urban gardening: Ron begins with the basics, providing insights into selecting the right location for your garden, understanding soil composition, and choosing the best plants for urban settings.
  • Creative use of space: A standout feature of this course is Ron’s inventive approach to utilizing limited space. He demonstrates how to make the most of small areas, such as sidewalks and balconies, to create lush gardens.
  • Practical techniques: Throughout the course, Ron shares hands-on techniques, from seed propagation and organic pest control to harvesting, ensuring that participants have a well-rounded understanding of the gardening process.
  • Inspiration and vision: Beyond the technical aspects, Ron offers his visionary perspective on the role of urban gardening in fostering sustainability and community.
  • Case studies: The inclusion of real-life case studies and Ron’s personal projects provides valuable practical insights and inspiration for learners.

Overall, Ron Finley’s MasterClass offers a comprehensive and dynamic learning experience, catering to anyone passionate about urban gardening and sustainability. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gardener, you’re bound to find valuable takeaways to apply to your own gardening endeavors.

My top lessons from Ron Finley’s MasterClass

Ron Finley’s MasterClass offers a wide array of lessons to choose from, and I’d like to discuss the top four lessons that I find most informative.

Upcycling containers

Anything can function as a container
Anything can serve as a container

In this lesson, Ron offers ingenious ways of repurposing everyday items. As shown in the image, even old, unused shoes can become a pot. From discarded crates to old buckets, Ron demonstrates how to breathe new life into these containers, turning them into homes for your plants. In this way, you not only save resources but also add unique character to your garden.

Growing herbs

Ron caring for herbs in an urban garden
Ron tending to herbs in an urban garden

Herbs offer numerous benefits, and Ron’s lesson comprehensively covers all essential aspects. He provides insights on which herbs to grow in conjunction with different plants, demonstrates how to cultivate them, and suggests suitable growing locations based on their functions. You’ll discover their remarkable advantages in enhancing the flavor of your meals, benefiting your health, and serving as effective pest control, not only for you but also as companion plants.

Propagating sugar cane

Ron offers practical advice on propagating sugar cane
Ron provides practical tips for propagating sugar cane

Ron doesn’t simply demonstrate how to propagate sugar cane; he also shares the method he finds most successful for abundant sugar cane production. In this lesson, he explains precisely which part of the germinated sugar cane to cut to maximize propagation. I intend to revisit this lesson and follow it step-by-step, including all necessary preparations, to actually practice his techniques.

Root-bound plants

Ron Finley demonstrating his techniques for addressing root-bound plants
Ron Finley's demonstrating his methods for dealing with root-bound plants

Root-bound conditions are common in potted plants. In this lesson, Ron not only teaches us how to identify the problem but also provides solutions. While root-bound may not be the most challenging issue you’ll encounter, its prevalence makes this lesson valuable for anyone growing plants in pots. Many people grow plants in pots, and if root-bound is the problem, learning the technique that Ron teaches is essential to overcome it.

What I particularly liked in Ron Finley’s MasterClass

Ron Finley’s MasterClass offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Let’s discuss the disadvantages first.

Inspiring vision

One advantage that marks Ron Finley’s course is his unique vision. His dedication to converting neglected urban spaces into vibrant gardens that address food insecurity and promote sustainability is truly inspirational. Ron is a pioneer who got the recognition he deserved, and I believe his vision can truly impact positive change.

Practical techniques

The course is rich in practical techniques that are beneficial for gardeners of all levels. Ron’s hands-on approach and detailed explanations provide learners with valuable skills they can apply immediately. From soil preparation to harvesting produce, everyone who takes the course comes out of the class equipped with the practical knowledge necessary to overcome a primary need – the need for food.


Ron’s emphasis on community building and empowerment is a unique feature of the course. Participants gain insights into how urban gardening can foster a sense of belonging and positive change in their communities. According to Ron, the sense of purpose that gardening builds, a responsibility to maintain your plant cycle, can even bring crime rates down as it did in his surrounding neighborhood.

Excellent production value

Gardening videos are usually not produced at such a high-quality level, and so Ron’s engaging teaching style, coupled with the cinematic videos on gardening methods, makes this MasterClass stand out. I think the cinematic quality will be appealing to a wider audience, even to those who aren’t particularly interested in gardening.

Educational course handbook

The course offers a useful handbook that guides students throughout the lessons. The handbook is a 41-page detailed description of the course content. It even includes assignments that students can do in their own time or to test their practical skills. This enhances the course as it brings to life the challenges that students face in a traditional classroom.

Limitations of Ron Finley’s MasterClass

Like any course, Ron’s MasterClass comes with its own set of limitations.

Limited personal interaction

While the course offers a comprehensive learning experience, there is limited opportunity for direct interaction with Ron Finley. Unfortunately, it’s primarily a one-way teaching format. I think Ron’s teachings would be all the more useful if you experience it in person.

Cost of subscription

MasterClass subscriptions can be relatively expensive ($120+), which might be a barrier to potential learners. They currently only offer yearly plans, and so you cannot just pay for Ron’s particular course. This makes access to his online course costly, especially if you have no interest in the other courses that are offered. However, you can make use of their 30-day money-back guarantee if you find that the subscription is not worth it for you.

Beginner skill level

Experienced gardeners may find some of the introductory content less relevant, as Ron covers a wide range of skill levels. I found that almost half of the things in his course I already know from having taken permaculture and horticulture classes.

Would I recommend Ron Finley’s MasterClass?

Ron Finley Teaches Gardening” encapsulates a journey of transformation, education, and empowerment, leaving learners with a profound sense of purpose and a toolkit for urban gardening. Overall, Ron’s course is not only valuable for anyone who wants to develop a green thumb but also impactful for those who care about sustainable living.

The course stands as a beacon of hope in the context of urban gardening and sustainability. Through his charismatic teaching style and visionary approach, he empowers learners to not only grow plants but to become catalysts for change in their communities.

The emphasis on repurposing urban spaces for productive gardens resonates deeply in an era where sustainability is paramount. This course, therefore, holds immense value for those seeking to contribute to a more sustainable and eco-conscious world.

The course’s focus on community-building and Ron’s heartfelt call to action fosters a sense of unity among learners. The community connection amplifies the course’s impact, reinforcing the idea that urban gardening is not just a solitary endeavor but a collaborative movement with the power to transform neighborhoods.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this course to a diverse audience. Novice gardeners will find it an accessible entry point, while experienced gardeners will appreciate Ron’s unique insights and innovative techniques. Beyond gardening, individuals passionate about sustainability, food justice, and community activism will discover a source of inspiration that transcends the confines of a typical gardening course.

Final thoughts

In a world where urbanization often threatens our connection to nature, Ron Finley’s MasterClass is a refreshing reminder of the transformative potential that lies within our urban environments. It not only equips learners with skills to cultivate thriving gardens but also ignites a sense of purpose and activism.

As you embark on a journey with Ron Finley, you’re not just learning how to garden; you’re becoming a steward of sustainability and a champion of positive change in your community. “Ron Finley Teaches Gardening” is a course that plants the seeds of transformation, and with the right nurturing, those seeds can grow into a greener, more sustainable future.