Action Needed: South Side under Imminent Threat of Development

Four things you can do right now to help save the Southern Half of the Gill Tract!

Additional Action Alert:  The clock is ticking!  On Wednesday, December 11th, please attend the Albany Planning and Zoning Commission meeting where the Sprouts development will be voted on.   Join us to urge the rejection of this disasterous development plan!  We’ll meet at 5:45 PM at the Albany City Hall Council Chambers.

A few clicks from you could make the difference!
Developers are threatening to pave over a large plot of unique, rare, and historic farmland in Albany, CA. As soon as December 12th of this year, chainsaws will be brought to the Gill Tract to begin the process of development, cutting down over 100 trees, including rare California natives.

The Gill Tract is public land managed by the University of California.  For 15 years, a coalition of farmers, UC students, professors, and local community members has been fighting to preserve this farmland as a center for agroecological research and local, sustainable urban farming.

Now, we’re ramping up a pressure campaign to convince the development’s anchor tenant (a corporate supermarket ironically named Sprouts “Farmer’s Market”) to withdraw from the project.

Last year’s anchor tenant, Whole Foods, pulled out of the previous agreement and we believe that the withdrawal of two anchor tenants in a row will bring the UC developers to the table, to hear local voices asking for a smaller, more community oriented development that will preserve farmland.

A quick update about the northern side of the Gill Tract

The north side is presently administered by the College of Natural Resources.  It was transferred out of Capital Projects after the 2012 OTF occupation!  Capital Projects is the non-educational development arm of UC Berkeley’s administration, and is currently in charge of and attempting to pave over the south side.

The Community Field Day and Open Forum on the Gill Tract on October 13th was a HUGE success.  This special event brought together our Gill Tract Farm Coalition and the College of Natural Resources to envision what UC’s collaboration with community at the Gill Tract Farm might look like going forward.  Well over 300 guests came out.  Folks got their hands dirty tending the land, learned about different agroecological strategies being used in the participatory research project, ate fresh food.  There were educational workshops, bees, goats, and even baby bunnies!

Presently, the participatory research project between 40 community farmers and Professor Miguel Altieri is entering its final stages of being cover cropped for a winter rest.  Plans for expansion of further projects next spring are under way.  OTF will be reigniting a series of community forums and working groups to integrate broad community input into the land’s future. We welcome suggestions for collaborative grants and other resources that will support community-led projects.

Pictures from October 13th “open farm day”at the Gill Tract.