Support Occupy The Farm on March 14th

#GillTractDefense Rally at Sprouts

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March 14th at 1:00 pm 

Sprouts “Farmer’s Market” Walnut Creek Retail Store

1530 Geary Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94597

NEED A RIDE from Berkeley? RSVP for a ride here!

RSVP and invite friends on facebook!

This is a Call for Support! In the early morning of Thursday, February 26th, UC Berkeley’s office of Capital Projects brought in a huge demolition team and police force to clear-cut 53 trees on the south side of the historic Gill Tract. For 20 years, the local community, students, and faculty have attempted to create a visionary research and education center on this public land. In 

2012 Occupy the Farm’s successful land occupations pushed out Whole Foods from the development, and saved 10 acres for 10 years. But 5-6 acres of the southern half of the Gill Tract is now under threat of imminent development, and our ability to create a 20 acre community-driven living laboratory for a Just Transition could disappear in an instant.

Click here to read a complete update on OTF’s website.

 

Why focus on Sprouts?  We’ve kicked out Whole Foods, and we can kick out Sprouts, setting back the entire development project. Not only is Sprouts “farmer’s market” the anchor tenant on the Gill Tract development, it is also a big-box, union-busting corporate chain supermarket that ships in food from all over the world and relies on food system injustices to make a profit. Their use of the word “Farmer’s Market” confuses the public and undermines local farmers who rely on real farmer’s markets for their livelihood. Read more here.

 What else can you do right now?

  1. Tell us what you’re into.  From web design, to farming, to social media and outreach, we need all hands on deck.  This quick survey will help us connect you to the action,  no matter where in the world you are. 
  2. Call and Email Ted Frumkin, Sprouts’ Senior Vice President of Business Development. Tell him: “DON’T BUILD YOUR NEW STORE ON THE GILL TRACT!”  tedfrumkin@sprouts.com; 602-682-1556
  3. Join our social media campaign: Take a photo of yourself with your definition of a farmer’s market, letting Sprouts know we see through their greenwash, and tweet or Facebook : @sproutsfm Don’t pave the Gill Tract for your  fake farmers market! #BoycottSprouts  #GillTractDefense  #OccupyTheFarm
  4. Donate on our website, occupythefarm.org.  We run almost entirely on people power, but things like fuel and website domains add up.

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Thank you for your continued support, love, and vision.  Hope to see you Saturday!

In soil we trust,

The OTF Collective

Twitter: @OccupyFarm

Facebook: Occupy the Farm

Spring Into Action

Saturday, May 11th at Noon: Plant the Farm and Occupy!
Meet up at Albany City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave!
Help spread the word on facebook!

Ahoy Farmsters, Occupiers, Friends!

It was about this time last year that UC’s development project, slated to pave over much of the historic Gill Tract Farm, was brought to the forefront of public debate by our three-week land occupation. The momentum continued into the summer with a campaign of direct action farming and guerilla food distribution, numerous public forums and speakouts in favor of the farm, a local referendum and two lawsuits against the UC’s plan.

All of this hard work helped establish a broad based coalition of grassroots groups, and it also secured two huge victories: control of the northern half of the Gill Tract was transferred from UC’s Capital Projects back to the UC College of Natural Resources, and the anchor tenant on the southern half of the Farm, Whole Foods, pulled out of the UC’s development project entirely.

We are encouraged to see the north side of the Farm under the administration of the College of Natural Resources (CNR), even if the reprieve from development is temporary (the UC’s arrangement is only for 10 years). We have begun work with fellow urban farmers and allies on campus to engage in meaningful dialogue around what a community partnership with the UC could look like. This diverse group of stakeholders recognizes the Farm as an icon of the structural challenges facing communities all over the world, as they struggle for land access and food justice. OTF is committed to maintaining these positive, collaborative relationships, even as we call for another direct action on May 11th.

Our call to action is spurred by UC Capital Projects’ recent unveiling of a renewed development plan for the Farm, which aims to replace Whole Foods with a smaller grocery store called Sprouts. At first glance that might sound like a win for farm supporters, but a closer look shows that the new development will have the same footprint as the old ones, with a large parking lot that would blanket most of the south side of the farm.

It is inspiring to see Albany residents rally to protect the Farm, joining a larger community that is not restricted to geographic proximity. Every resident of California is a stakeholder in the UC: it is up to us to ensure that the UC’s stewardship of the Gill Tract does not sacrifice our interests in public land and public education in favor of corporate interests and a quick profit. Each of you receiving this email, no matter where you are in the world, is a critical constituent in the battle for an Urban Farm at the Gill Tract, and it in turn reflects and magnifies the struggles of every other community that is fighting for the highest and best use of our planet’s food system and natural resources.

The southern portion of the Gill Tract Farm that is under threat has not been cultivated for years, but the soil remains some of the most fertile in the bioregion. Fed by the rising and receding cycle of the two creeks that have run through the land for millennia, and subject to comparatively little development or contamination since World War II, the remaining portion of the Farm is irreplaceable in its capacity to build local resiliency through the cultivation of food, knowledge, and community.

On Saturday, May 11th, we will launch an action that manifests the highest and best use of the Gill Tract farmland!

Meet at 12 noon sharp
Albany City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave
Be prepared to farm and occupy!

Can you help? RSVP to occupythefarmrsvp@gmail.com if you can:

  • Attend the actions… and bring friends!
  • Support us with material needs such as food, drinking water, water for plants, tools, transport!
  • Spread the word!: invite folks to the facebook events for May 8 and May 11, print and post up flyers.
  • Email Albany City Government cityhall@albanyca.org to express your disappointment with the UC’s new development plans, and copy us at otfalbany@gmail.com so we can keep a count! Or call “Community Development Director” Jeff Bond at 510-528-5769.
  • Donate! Watch for a specific wish list going up on our website soon, or donate to us through our wepay account.

On Sunday, we will be spreading the love across the bay… helping to save Esperanza Gardens in SF, which is also on the development chopping block. Download the flyer, and learn more at HumanBeIn.org

May 11 poster

Liberate the Land Party

Saturday, May 11th – Sunday May 12th

Come one, come all, to a good ol’ fashioned short-form occupation.
There will be farming (of course), your friends and neighbors, skill-shares, music, and more!

We will gather in front of Albany City Hall (San Pablo and Marin in Albany, CA) before we head over to do some planting.

Bring tools if you can (shovels, digging forks, trowels, sun hat, gloves), drinking water, and stories to share. Also, don’t forget tents and sleeping bags.

On Sunday, we will be spreading the love across the bay… helping to save Esperanza Gardens in SF, which is also on the development chopping block. See the attached flyer and learn more at HumanBeIn.org

If you can provide support: childcare, water, truck / transport, tools, farming machinery, $$, portapotties, food, music, art, or if you can help us do outreach please reach out to us at occupythefarmrsvp@gmail.com.

Plans for plant care TBD.

To get caught up on whats going on, read our news bulletin at bit.ly/16eRJNB

Share the event on facebook

Farm Spring/Sprung!

FARMSPRUNG 4/20 – THIS SATURDAY!

Party and Concert for Occupy The Farm

@3090 King St, Berkeley CA

Roll on in to celebrate the good word: One year later, Occupy the Farm is still planting and plotting!

Come ready to shake it, and enjoy curiosities of the beverage and delectable variety. You may even catch news on spring strategies if you’re lucky, as the fight for farmland across the Bay Area evolves.

ABOUT THE MUSICIANS:

VOYAJ kicks us off in the garden from 8:00-8:20: Hyper-colored textures and bass you can feel visually manifesting as a triple serpentine (or angular) synthetic mandala that tells a worthwhile story coupled with nonchalant vocals that play with your brain waves like a dark jester.

Upside Drown (8:30-8:50pm): rocks in a sublimely whimsical way, altering the mood in a room with vocal harmonies, lilting electric guitar and sparse yet charismatic percussion blend. Their voices evoke a West Coast lo-fi aesthetic~ seeped in the haunted, wet forests of the Pacific Northwest and deconstructed by the dingy whimsy of Oakland punkery

SHAKE YOUR PEACE! (9:45-10:30pm): A San Francisco-based band playing a celebratory and political style of music called Whup – combining stylistic elements of bluegrass, Afro-Latin, gospel, and folk-rock.

Future Twin (9:00-9:30) self-describes as sonic anthropologists, taking inspiration from brian eno, ganglians, animals and men, the atler set, royal baths, grass widow, dead eyes. Founded in october 2010 in san francisco, Future Twin was brought together by the all girl moped gang the Lockits.

Michael Zeligs (10:45-11:15pm) will close us out as only he can: a live performance as a way of activating communities of people to sing together, helping us all learn to stand in our voice. The genre is a kind of “new american kirtan”, and his studio songs are constructed using looping textures to enable big choruses of people to be joined in song.

FACEBOOK EVENT

poster by fema

Vernal Equinox Spring Celebration

Thursday, March 21st • 12pm-4pm
Memorial Glade, UC Berkeley campus

Join Occupy the Farm and student group We Dig the Farm for a merry afternoon
celebrating spring!

Featuring

Seed Planting + Seedling giveaways: we’ve got the seeds, dirt and itty bitty pots, you bring your hands and ears and we’ll teach you all about growing your own food and send you home with a head start

T-shirt and poster making: t-shirts and poster materials provided along with paint and artsy stencils

Food!!! compliments Food Not Bombs

Live Music and acclaimed speakers delivering tunes and knowledge throughout the entire event.

     12:30-1:30 Wago and Chris of Magnetic Highway
     2:00-2:30  Dear Indugu
     3:30-4:00  Emily Yates, Ukulele Superstar!

The acclaimed speakers will be interspersed with the music, and they are TBA

Brings friends, family, and a blanket or two sit on. We will provide the rest!!

Also check out the event on facebook

Spread the word, share this poster:

Gill Tract Urban Farm

The successes of the last year inspire us to continue to organize.

Despite the UC police raid and the destruction of over half of the crops in May, we still managed to grow and distribute thousands of pounds of free food to the community last summer and fall. The unprecedented public access to the Gill Tract last spring allowed thousands of Bay Area residents to finally set foot on the land and farm. In August, a successful petition for referendum was submitted against the Albany City Council approval of UC development. In September, Whole Foods cancelled its development plan with the UC entirely. The UC also announced a ten-year guarantee to preserve the northern piece of the land for their new Sustainable Food Systems Institute.

Now is the time to compare our position to that of the UC, and to make it clear what we are fighting for.

We want to see the Gill Tract preserved as farmland, in perpetuity.

Some of our members have been fighting to save the Gill Tract from UC development for decades. In 1997, the UC administration walked away from similar commitments – collaborative talks with a coalition of community groups called BACUA (Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture), that spearheaded the establishment of a center for urban agriculture on the Gill Tract. At the same time, the UC released a Master Plan that revealed its intention to build baseball fields and structures on the prime farmland, stating, “The College of Natural Resources now plans to relocate its agricultural operations from the Gill Tract to an off-site location. The operations are being relocated because the existing facilities are substandard, have inadequate security, and because academic research is moving in new directions that require new types of facilities.” Dean Gilles’ recent announcement of a ten-year commitment to ‘metropolitan agriculture’ on the tract is a step in the right direction, but it is not long term, toward the interest of future generations. If the UC wishes to demonstrate a commitment to urban agriculture at the Gill Tract, it should legally re-designate this land so that it is preserved as an agricultural commons, in perpetuity.

We are organizing to ensure that the public has access to the land and a say in how it is used; the UC has yet to host a single open meeting.

Since April, Occupy the Farm has held over 10 open forums about the Gill Tract. These have occurred on the UC Campus, in the Albany community, the UC Village, and other locations in the Bay Area. Hundreds of people have attended these events in an ongoing collaboration to develop a collective vision for the future use of the land. It is unfortunate that, despite several invitations, the UC administration continues to refuse to engage with the public at these forums, or to hold any public meeting of their own. An urban agriculture program at California’s public University should not just make reference to, but must include local urban communities, to consolidate our collective experience and knowledge as urban farmers, and educate the public at large.
We believe ALL of the Gill Tract should be used for urban agriculture; the UC intends to use only a small portion of the land.

While our cultivation has focused on the northern portion of the Gill Tract – the last substantial parcel of undeveloped agricultural soil in the East Bay – the southern portion of the tract also has nutrient rich soil.

These southern portions are in dire need of soil testing and bio-remediation. We believe that any truly comprehensive urban agriculture program at the Gill Tract must offer accessible programs to test and rehabilitate soil contaminated by industry and development. Unfortunately, 100% of this southern portion of the Gill Tract is still slated for immediate commercial development by the UC. On the northern portion of the Gill Tract, the UC administration has not revealed the exact percentage of land that will actually be used for its urban agriculture program. Presently, the vast majority of the northern portion of the land is allocated to corn-based genetic research to benefit the biotechnology industry. The corn is grown to be inedible and the the research results in private patents, like the one that belongs to Sarah Hake, who recently patented a gene in corn that she discovered through research at Gill Tract. She applied this gene, Corngrass1, to the genetic modification of switch-grass to force to remain in its vegetative state, to never truly die, to be ‘forever young’.

Both the northern and southern portions of the Gill Tract are invaluable resources for community-based urban agriculture. We are committed to using both portions for the benefit of the community and the production of urban agricultural knowledge.

To get involved or receive action updates:

– Sign up for our newsletter on the “support” tab on this site

– text “gilltractfarm” to 41411 to receive notifications via cell phone

– find us on facebook as the community group “Occupy the Farm”

– follow us on twitter @occupyfarm

– contact gilltractfarm@riseup.net

OTF Documentary Kickstarter!

Dear farmers and neighbors,

As the micro-organisms work their magic in the sleeping winter soil, Todd Darling, documentarian, has been working hard on the film about Occupy the Farm. Today he is launching a Kickstarter campaign that will enable the film crew to finish editing, and start getting our story out to festivals and theaters.

The people power that created the Gill Tract Farm can also help launch the documentary. By sharing this work that you’ve been a part of with friends, family and allies, you can not only continue to fight for the Tract, but for land access and preservation efforts going strong all over the planet.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TRAILER

Other Updates on the Gill Tract:

South Side Soil Sampling
On December 2nd, we visited the tract for the final time this year, and took soil samples on the southern portion of the Gill Tract. We celebrate that, as a result of the springtime land occupation, the north side of the tract has been temporarily preserved for Urban Ag education via its transfer back to the College of Natural Resources of UC Berkeley. However, just like the northern fields, the south side is critical for generating useful research for urban communities – specifically, in regards to the bioremediation of contaminated soil. The soil samples we collected this month are the first step in a community-driven research project, whose goal is to promote the use of the south side as an educational resource, rather than for profit.

Springtime Community Forum
Our allies the Albany Farm Alliance are continuing to support open and collaborative dialogue about the future of the Gill Tract. Join the coordination team to plan and facilitate a community forum to inform, inspire, and continue work toward vibrant and productive urban farming in Albany. Contact Alexa at info@albanyfarmalliance.com

Thank you for the work that has and will continue to make this project possible.

Farmland is for farming!

-OTF Storytellers