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General Mills-owned Annie’s vows to save Ron Finley's urban garden

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Douglas Yu

By Douglas Yu+

Last updated on 07-Apr-2017 at 19:32 GMT2017-04-07T19:32:32Z

Ron Finley needs to raise $500,000 to save his urban farmland project in LA from closure. Pic: Gangsta Gardener
Ron Finley needs to raise $500,000 to save his urban farmland project in LA from closure. Pic: Gangsta Gardener

US natural foods company, Annie’s, and President John Foraker along with his wife have donated $100,000 to an urban farmland in Los Angeles, California, called "The Ron Finley Project." 

Gangsta Gardener was started by Ron Finley in 2010 when he decided to turn a strip of city-owned land into a food oasis.

Finley grows a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and plants on his site.

However, he is now facing eviction by city officials unless he can come up with $500,000 to purchase the property. Through his GoFundMe campaign, he has raised $486,670.

Annie's president John Foraker told BakeryandSnack the company will “spread awareness and make noise” until the required funds are raised.

Aligning with Annie’s brand value

“The garden under Ron’s leadership has played an outsized role in raising awareness about food deserts, healthy food choices for kids, inner city social justice issues and more,” Foraker said.

“As the leader of a values-driven business, I have seen, firsthand, the ability of a garden to drive positive community impact and change the lives of those it serves.”

To date, Annie’s has assisted with the development and growth of more than 350 gardens at school and other educational programs across the US through its own initiative, Grants for Gardens, he added.

“Our ongoing partnership with FoodCorps that began in 2012 continues to build cultures of health, including healthy school meals and hands-on lessons, at a growing number of K-12 schools nationwide.”

FoodCorps is a US program that focuses on nutrition and healthy food among children. 

Educational opportunities for communities

Foraker said the high cost and limited availability of private and public properties in inner city settings are major challenges that prevent urban farming from growing.

“Beyond providing inner city communities with fresh produce, urban farming provides an opportunity to teach communities where real food comes from ... with ... direct access to an agricultural setting that would not otherwise be accessible in an inner city setting.”

Annie’s is one of the top graham cracker makers in the US. The company posted sales of around $8m generated from its graham cracker category, representing a growth rate of 50.81% compared to the year prior, according to IRI’s data that includes total US multi-outlets with c-stores for the latest 52 weeks ending August 7, 2016.

The company also produces baking mixes and cereals.

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