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Ron Finley MasterClass review (2021): Is it worthwhile? My verdict

My mom is a great gardener. I’ve always been in awe of how easily she’s grown oranges, cherries, gardenias, orchids, you name it.

I’ve always been afraid to get really into gardening. What if I kill the plants?

My fear caused me to search for an easy course on gardening that might help me out.

That’s when I found Ron Finley’s MasterClass on Gardening.

Could this be it? The answer to my gardening anxieties?

Read my comprehensive Ron Finley MasterClass review to find out!

Who is Ron Finley?

Ron Finley is a Los-Angeles based fashion designer and guerilla gardener. What’s a guerilla gardener? It’s a gardener who cultivates crops on lands that they do not have the rights to — think desolate patches of land in cities and alongside roads.

He gave a widely-viewed Ted Talk in 2013 where he advocated for guerilla gardening and highlighted the dangers of food deserts/food scarcity. He has since raised half-a-million dollars to purchase land for a gardening training center. He calls himself the “gangsta gardener.”

In short, he may be the coolest gardener alive (except for my mother).

What is Ron Finley’s MasterClass?

Ron Finley’s MasterClass is on Gardening. It’s a 2-hour class comprised of 10 video lessons. Along with the lessons, there is a PDF accompaniment that runs 41 pages. In the PDF, there are a set of assignments that Ron gives you — assignments that get you out of the house and into the world of gardening.

For a class that’s only 2 hours long, it’s a pretty robust course that offers you real, engaging content that you can apply pretty much right away.

Here are the 10 lessons you’ll tackle:

  1. Meet Your Instructor
  2. Planting A Revolution
  3. Getting Dirty
  4. Creating Planters
  5. Grow Your Own Food: Greens And Legumes
  6. Grow Your Own Food: Sweet Potatoes
  7. Grow Your Own Food: Herbs
  8. Increasing Your Bounty
  9. How To Not Kill Your Plants
  10. Finding Your Creativity

Right from this overview, you can see that these are applicable classes, where you will gain real-world info from Ron Finley that you can apply to your garden, immediately.

That’s one of my favorite parts of this course. It’s practical. It’s applicable. It’s fresh.

Who is this MasterClass for?

Ron Finley’s MasterClass is for anyone looking to learn how to garden. The class is certainly geared toward beginners, but gardeners of any level will benefit from this course.

Why do I say that?

Because Finley focuses on innovative gardening techniques that traditional gardeners might not be doing. They’re not advanced; they’re innovative. Therefore, any gardener worth their salt would want to check this class out.

It’s also for people looking to become more self-reliant, as Finley has three lessons on how to grow your own food. If you’re looking for sustainable living tips and boosts, you’d really like this course.

Lastly, this course is for people who want to get their hands dirty. This is a practical class that encourages you to get into the weeds and get planting. It’s not a philosophy course. It’s active learning.

Who is this MasterClass not for?

This MasterClass is not for people who don’t have access to gardening space. While Ron Finley has made a name for himself as a guerilla gardener — carving out gardening space in non-traditional places — you still need to have space to garden in the first place. If you’re in an apartment building and don’t have access to a lot of sunlit spaces, this class will be harder.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. Ron shows you how to do growing inside. But, it’s harder. You need more equipment. You need the right type of light. If you’re not willing to invest in the infrastructure for indoor gardening, you’ll be out of schlitz.

It’s also not the class for people who don’t want to garden. That’s not the same as people who think they can’t garden. If you think you can’t garden, but really want to learn how, then you’d like this class.

If you think gardening is boring, then I’d suggest you keep on looking!

What is MasterClass?

The only way to take Ron Finley’s MasterClass is through MasterClass — an online education site that sells access to courses taught by “masters” in their field. These are masters like Salman Rushdie and Magaret Atwood along with dozens of other living legends.

MasterClass works through a subscription method — like Netflix. You purchase the All-Access Pass, and then you’ll gain access to hundreds if not thousands of hours of content, expertly curated and hosted by masters.

Each class on MasterClass functions the same way: you watch video lessons featuring the master and complete supplemental coursework on your own time. After, you can post your work on the course discussion boards. Ron Finley’s MasterClass is a prime example of this format.

How much does Ron Finley’s MasterClass cost?

There are now two ways to purchase access to the Ron Finley MasterClass.

The first way is to purchase the class for yourself as a gift. It’s a bit tricky to find. Scroll to the Ron Finley MasterClass landing page. At the bottom, click the “give as a gift.” Then gift it to yourself. This costs $90.

The second way to access the class is through MasterClass’s annual membership called the All-Access Pass. This costs $180.

What does the annual membership get you?

  • An entire year’s subscription to all classes on MasterClass (over 90 classes).
  • Access to community message boards
  • PDF workbooks for each class

MasterClass as a whole really is bingeable learning content. It offers you literally thousands of hours of lessons in categories like cooking, writing, negotiation, and songwriting.

All of these classes are taught by world-class masters in their field (think Margaret Atwood, David Baldacci, Judy Blume, and Dan Brown), giving you unprecedented insight into the creative processes of geniuses.

I like to do a quick cost comparison between a single class ($90) and the All-Access Pass ($180).

For only the price of two classes, you get access to over 90 MasterClasses for an entire year.

You can take as many classes as you like, and you can take them concurrently — allowing you to learn from multiple teachers at once.

Plus, MasterClass has a great new feature called Quick Lists. The Quick Lists organizes different lessons from a variety of courses based around theme. It’s like a playlist for learning, and is a great way to discover which class you might like to take long term.

To me, the MasterClass annual membership is a great deal that keeps getting better.

What’s it like taking the Ron Finley MasterClass?

I wanted to walk you through the Ron Finley MasterClass to give you a good idea if this course might be right for you.

After you sign up for the course on MasterClass, you’re led to your first video — meet your instructor. Every MasterClass starts with this video lesson. It’s about 5 minutes long and brings you up to speed on who Ron Finley is.

From there, he branches (ha) off into different lessons. Let’s take a look at a few of them right now.

Planting a Revolution

Planting a Revolution is a unique lesson, in that it bridges Ron’s story into his personal views and philosophy on gardening. He talks you through the story of his guerilla garden, how the police issued an arrest warrant for him illegally gardening, how he fought the city for his right to garden, and how he changed the law as a result; LA now allows people to plant edible plants along the parkway.

From there, the lesson dives into Finley’s dreams for how to rebuild a neighborhood by increasing gardening. In his vision, by each neighbor growing produce, the neighbors will come to rely on each other and cultivate a deeper connection. It’s a beautiful vision.

Getting Dirty

The next lesson is on soil. Ron walks you through several different types of soil (compacted, clay, sand, loam) to show you what you need for crafting your garden (his ideal mix is a combination of loam and sand).

Next, he shows you how to use composting techniques to improve the health and consistency of your soil. I’ve always been hesitant to compost (it seems stinky!) but Ron assures me it is one of the best things you can do for the planet.

Composting, according to Finley, is Mother Nature’s way to recycle energy and nutrients. We help organic matter decompose and then enrich our soil as a result. Plus, we remove these great nutrients from our waste cycle. We cut out the landfill, and boost our planet’s health! Win win!

He teaches some great tips for creating compost: don’t keep it too dry, make sure it gets some air. From there, he teaches you the ingredients you’ll need to put in your compost pile, as well as what to avoid.

When your compost has gotten fine and broken down, you can put it into your garden to help your dirt become nutritious soil.

Grow your own food: sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes is the second “grow your own food” lesson, but it’s Ron’s favorite food to grow, so I figured I’d take a minute to recap it.

First of all: Ron teaches you that sweet potato greens are a dynamite food source, and encourages you to eat them. I hadn’t known that, but I’ll try to incorporate that into my diet.

Next, Finley teaches you the many ways you can grow sweet potatoes. I don’t want to spoil the lesson, but there are at least 3 different ways you can grow sweet potatoes — from different parts of the plant (roots, nodes, spuds). It was quite an eye opening lesson.

How to Not Kill Your Plants

The second-to-last lesson is a 20+ minute lesson where Ron teaches you how to maintain your plants by diagnosing some common plant maladies.

The first step is using frost dates to determine when to plant frost-sensitive vegetables. Spring veggies you plant after the last frost. Fall veggies you harvest before the first frost.

Makes sense to me!

He next teaches you about your own microclimate — how your personal yard is affected by shade, extra water, and light exposure that may not be reflected at the macro-level. You can, however, affect your own micro-climate by grown certain plants. For example, you can cool your microclimate by growing enough trees to build a canopy.

There are a lot more great lessons, but I’ll save those for you to find out!

Ron Finley’s MasterClass: Pros and Cons

Every time I take a MasterClass, I have things I really love, and I have a few things I wish could have been different. Ron Finley’s MasterClass is no different.

Let’s tackle the pros first.

Pros

I really loved this class. Here are my favorite elements of the MasterClass.

Great, Applicable Lessons

This is a real class. This is not a philosophy class. It’s not an ad for Ron Finley. This is a class that goes out of its way to teach you how to grow healthy, sustainable plants. Herbs, sweet potatoes, micro-climate… The list is quite robust. If you have a garden, you’ll benefit from this MasterClass.

Ron Finley is awesome

Ron has a frank, but calm delivery which I really connected to. It was so refreshing to hear him call worm casings “worm shit.” I loved it. He freely dropped “shit” and “fuck” throughout the class. Not in an insulting way, but in a casual way. He made gardening seen relaxing, friendly, and conversational. Not stuffy at all. If you’re worried that gardening is too fussy, you’ll really enjoy listening to Ron teach.

The PDF is a font of knowledge

The PDF guide is top shelf. It’s 41 pages long, but provides you with definitions, charts, how-tos, and a snappy overview of Mr. Finley himself. It’s a great PDF that you’ll want to keep long after the class is over.

The video production is stellar

Like every MasterClass course, Ron Finley’s MasterClass has high-quality video lessons that are sterling. Think Netflix streaming quality. You can view these lessons on your home computer, or on the MasterClass app, making viewing the lessons a breeze.

He teaches you how to fix problems

Ron Finley helps you troubleshoot your plant problems. He shows you how to identify a root-bound plant, how to identify a plant that needs water, how to know if a plant needs more sunlight, etc. Then, he teaches you how to fix those problems. I really appreciated that. He walks you through the entire process. If you’ve found yourself with a “black thumb,” then give Ron Finley’s class a try.

Cons

There were a few things I wished could have been better. I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t bring them up.

Let’s take a look.

The class is short.

It’s 2 hours long and 10 video lessons. It’s not the shortest MasterClass ever, but it’s pretty brief. I would have appreciated getting a few more lessons on different types of plants. Maybe there’ll be a sequel in the near future. I’d certainly be eager to learn more.

It’s tough if you don’t have outdoor space.

Ron got his start doing guerilla gardening — gardening in non-traditional spaces. But, these spaces were all outside. If you live in a city where you don’t have your own outside space (say New York), then it’s a bit difficult to grow a garden. Sure, you can grow a few indoor plants, but you can’t grow the sweet potatoes that he spends a whole lesson teaching you about.

I wish there had been a lesson or two on indoor plants, but maybe that’ll be in a future course!

Gardening is an investment

Gardening isn’t crazy expensive — not by a long shot. And Finley teaches you ways to make it even more economical. But it’s an investment, and you’ll need to spend some money (and definitely some time) to complete the lessons he teaches you. If you’re not able to build up that plant infrastructure, you may find yourself feeling that this class isn’t for you.

Ron Finley MasterClass alternatives?

If you’re into classes like Ron Finley’s, then you’ll be glad to know that MasterClass has a great slate of home & lifestyle courses.

Some of the most popular are:

  • Interior Design with Kelly Wearstler
  • Conservation with Dr. Jane Goodall
  • Dog Training with Brandon McMillan

There are dozens of other courses in many different categories, but these three were the ones that felt the closest to Ron’s class. Try out the All-Access Pass and see for yourself!

My verdict: is Ron Finley’s MasterClass worth it?

I can excitedly say that yes, Ron Finley’s MasterClass is worth it! It’s an impressive, practical course that gives you real how-tos and lessons on how to cultivate your own food, herbs, and other plants to build a thriving garden. It is a little on the short side, but the lessons are very valuable. Plus, the PDF guide is a great resource that you can turn to long after the course is over.

Go check it out today!

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Nathan Dennis

Written by Nathan Dennis

Nathan Dennis is a Manhattan based playwright and poet of Floridian extraction. A graduate of NYU Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, he served as a Rita and Burton Goldberg Fellow, and was awarded Outstanding Writing for the Stage in Spring of 2015. His most recent play, Lord of Florida, was workshopped by PrismHouse Theatre Company in the Fall of 2017.

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