5/21 UC Regents: Produce not Privatization! 5/23 March Against Monsanto, and more

Esteemed farmrades,

Loads of gratitude to all who showed up at the potluck! We shared candid reflections of the Permaculture Action Weekend, and prepared ourselves to carry out yet another successful direct action at Sprouts Walnut Creek last week.

Many thanks also to Eddie Risse for producing this video on the farm-stand direct action. The video gives a deeper interview with an OTF organizer about the Environmental Health impacts of the development, and shares the perspective of Eduardo Martinez, newly-elected Richmond City Councilmember.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the hella important Regents Meeting this week!

*** UC Regents: We want Produce not Privatization! ***

Thursday, May 21st at 8am
UCSF Mission Bay Campus Conference Center, San Francisco

Join us this Thursday to tell UC President Napolitano and the UC Regents: Don’t pave, pollute and privatize our public land! We want produce, not privatization!

Carpools will be gathering at MacArthur BART at 6:15am. Screening and entrance typically begins at 8am. If you would like to give public comment, please email Vanessa Raditz at vraditz@gmail.com who will help you get on the list with UCOP.

UC Regents Capitalize on Environmental Injustice Despite Statewide Efforts

The UC Regents are mismanaging public resources on a wide-spread level, far beyond just tuition hikes. This privatization is endangering the health of CA students, workers, and communities.
For 20 years, students and community members have been calling on the UC to stop its plans to pave and privatize the Gill Tract Farm. This undemocratic decision by the UC Regents capitalizes on environmental injustices, sacrifices the health of vulnerable communities, and opposes the State of California’s policies and interests. If the UC refuses to halt the development of the Gill Tract, Occupy the Farm is calling on a broad coalition of supporters to pass SCA 1, which will give legislative control over the UC Regents so that they no longer have sole authority over such community decisions.

*** March Against Monsanto: REAL Food for All! ***

Join us as we March Against Monsanto!

Saturday, May 23rd
11:30 – Meet Up & Welcome at Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza
12:00 – March begins
1:00 – Reassemble at Lake Merritt Lakeside Park (Pergola) located at 550 El Embarcadero Oakland, CA 94610 for RALLY!


Occupy the Farm will be speaking at the rally following the March! Please join in the groundswell of people rising in defense of unadulterated seeds, protection of biodiversity, responsible stewardship of the soil, ethical practices, a toxin-free food system and the sustainable future we all want.

Homemade signs, costumes and strollers all encouraged. This will be a family-friendly peaceful protest.


Boycott Sprouts actions pop up in Austin, TX!

A team of food justice supporters hit up two different Sprouts retailers, labeling their products with #BoycottSprouts stickers that told people about Sprouts’s plans to pave urban farmland and directed folks to our website. Call your friends across California and the Southwest to encourage them to start up their own stealthy, powerful protests as well!

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Bait-and-Switch Fools Sprouts, Wasting Time & Money

In the latest action targeting Sprouts (the so-called) Farmers Market last week, Occupy the Farm activists pulled off a bait-and-switch tactic, fooling the company into thinking we were targeting their Daly City store when instead we had shown up at the Walnut Creek location undercover. Down at Daly City, there were 17 cops and 10 Sprouts managers from across the area, wasting them them thousands of dollars of personnel time. Meanwhile, in Walnut Creek, we held a shop-in, mic checks, a rally outside, costumes and theatrical productions of environmental destruction! It was a good night had by all, and definitely one that will make it back up to Sprouts headquarters.


– Sprouts Action coming up! Clear your calendar for May 30th!


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 actions, no matter where in the world you are.

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How to Protest a Sprouts!

Last week’s ‪#‎BoycottSprouts‬ action was a huge success! The old bait and switch tactic worked like a charm. Over 10 management and 17 police officers gathered down in Daly City, preparing for us, but Occupy the Farm and allies went back for a visit to Walnut Creek. Shop-In, mic checks, a rally outside, costumes and theatrical productions of environmental destruction… It was a good night had by all, and definitely one that will be making it back up to Sprouts headquarters.


Check out this great report back from the action and background on the struggle written by a local neighbor! Consider this a step by step in how you, too, could organize a Sprouts protest!


On Wednesday evening, 5/13/15, a group of intrepid folks from Occupy the Farm gathered to do a last-minute check-in and plan for our direct action at a Sprouts Farmers Market store. Our purpose: Protest the proposed plan for the paving over of a portion of the south side of our beloved Gill Tract in order to build a new Sprouts at that location.


Just a little background:
Gill Tract Farm in Albany, CA is the last 20 acres of historic farmland in the Bay area, and is held in the public trust by the University of California, and belongs to all of us. The University has been trying to pave it for 2 decades, in its endless search for ways to increase its revenue, but the small income they would make from leasing this land to private companies is a drop in the bucket compared to their massive budget shortfalls from mismanaging our public resources. People in the surrounding community in Albany and across the East Bay strenuously object to paving over this wonderful, historic section of farmland in the East Bay. Gill Tract has been used for decades as an agricultural research site. The northern section of the Gill Tract, thanks to the massive protests of Occupy the Farm and the community in 2012, is now protected as agricultural land for ten years and will not be developed for business and non-agricultural purposes until 2022.


However, the south side of this public land is still under threat of being paved and privatized any day, and the anchor tenant of the commercial development is Sprouts “Farmers Market”. Sprouts present itself as a “farmers market,” but it does not obtain most of its produce locally, it does not pay its employees well, and it fights labor and unions. Many of its products (much like another so-called “natural” store owned by a monster corporation) are not natural or organic or healthy. This is merely a corporation and big business as usual, masquerading as a healthy, consumer-oriented and environment-friendly entity.

We’ve been saying, NO! We want a REAL Farmers Market on historic Farmland.

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What happened Wednesday!
After preparing and making plans, our group of concerned farmers and neighbors caravaned out to the Sprouts market in Walnut Creek with banners, costumes, and good will.  We arrived in waves of small groups, an unassuming group of your regular neighborly shoppers.

We grabbed shopping carts and started browsing through Sprouts, slowly filling our carts with various items – many overpriced and not so healthy. Some of us did some invisible political theater- engaging with other shoppers in the store about the weird hypocrisies we noticed.
Huh, isn’t it weird how they’re calling these bananas from Peru local?


I love “natural” white bread and “farm fresh” banana bread mix!



Suddenly the call of “Mic check” rang out, and the pleasant consumer experience was broken. Spread out throughout the store, we started repeating back the mic checks so that all shoppers could hear us. We imparted information to our fellow shoppers, such as the fact that Sprouts is not a “real farmers market,” that it is a big corporation, that it doesn’t obtain much of its food locally, and that they have been busting up unions and violating workers rights.


Some shoppers looked curious, some puzzled, some amused, and a few were annoyed. We handed out informational fliers and chatted with some customers. Management was remarkably low-key.


We sang songs and kept rolling the mic checks as the employees gathered to discuss what to do- almost all of their managers and decision-makers were waiting for us down in Daly City!





The police finally arrived – only a very few – after about a half hour. We overheard the cops telling management they could have us all arrested right away. At that point, we all abandoned our shopping carts and marched outside for a rally.

We spread out some large banners – reading “Public Land for the People” and “Farms are for Farming” and continued to sing songs and chant. We also had an energetic percussionist helping us out on hand drums. One favorite song was “Sprouts, Sprouts, just pull on out, This is a deal we can do without, Come on, we’re talkin’ to you, come on…” sung to the tune of the 80s tune “Shout” by Tears for Fears. (Try it…. it works really well!)


We get our musical inspiration from everywhere, even the 80s… Direct action at Walnut Creek #Sprouts protesting proposed destruction of farmland to put in a corporate #Sprouts store at #GillTract. #BoycottSprouts #GillTractDefense

Posted by Singn Play on Thursday, May 14, 2015

We had some great produce joining us – a singing, chanting bunch of grapes and a nice stalk of broccoli, who went running through the store at one point, wailing and running in a panic from a Sprouts bulldozer that was trying to plow them under!
We then paraded back in as a procession of chanters, including our friendly grapes and broccoli, and even the bulldozer, who seemed to have cooled his jets, marching through the store with our banners.

Our point was made. A few shoppers learned a few things. The police and the management distracted back at Daly City learned that we were thinking one step ahead. Some tweets, photos, videos, and posts were sent out to the world; and a good time was had by all.

We called it a day, and headed home.

Find out more! Get involved!
If you’d like to see more tweets and videos of this action, take a look at the timelines for @Occupyfarm, @SingnPlay and @No-Latch on Twitter. Also the Facebook pages for Occupy the Farm and for Singn Play.
And please consider becoming more involved with Occupy the Farm and the efforts to save all of Gill Tract from development and preserve it for community farmland and uses. You can also come on down to Gill Tract Community Farm to help at the community garden by doing some actual farming and other chores. It serves a great purpose – feeding people for free – and it’s also good for your mood and spirit!
More info about direct actions and the struggle to save Gill Tract is at the Occupy the Farm Facebook page. And info about volunteering and work at the farm is at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm Facebook page.

Get involved with OTF this Thurs, Farmstand rebuilt at AfrikaTown, and more!

Dearest Farmrades,

The ripples keep spreading from our REAL farmers market action April 25th and 26th at the Gill Tract!  Relive the weekend in Peter Menchini’s fabulous new video of the days of action, pinned to the top of our facebook.  Please share the video far and wide and in the comments, tag your friends who were present that weekend!


Action Refection & Next Steps Potluck
Thursday, 5/7, 6-9pm in Omni Commons

Join other farmrades for a community reflection on our April 25th/26th days of action, to share thoughts on what we can do better next round, and give props to those who made this one successful! We especially invite the input of folks NEW to the Gill Tract struggle, as fresh eyes offer important insights.

If you are able, bring a snack or dish to share.
6-7pm is food and socializing. 7-9pm facilitated discussion.

*** UPDATE:  Farm stand successfully rebuilt at AfrikaTown Garden ***


“Uwezo wote wa watu! We are appreciative of the farm stand from Occupy the Farm being stationed in Afrika Town. We will make productive use of it. This is a positive step towards building solidarity in multiple communities around the idea of working together to liberate the land.”
– Abdul-Rahman Shakur, Qilombo & Afrika Town garden

“The transfer of the farm stand structure from the Gill Tract defense weekend to AfrikaTown shows much more than the practical sharing of resources between two grassroots land defense efforts. It symbolizes building solidarity and bridging networks between communities that actively attempt to create justice-based food systems–the kind that prioritizes the needs of real people over profit-obsessed machines of commerce.”
– Susan Parks, local urban farmer and food justice organizer

Read more from last week’s blog post, now with updated information and pictures: Seeds of Solidarity between Gill Tract Defense and AfrikaTown Garden

*** SAVE THE DATE *** 

– Sprouts Action coming up! Find out more at the Thursday Potluck 😉

May 21stPARTY and Direct Action Training. More information TBD.

May 23rd: REAL Food for All! March Against Monsanto.


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 actions, no matter where in the world you are.

*** PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK! Donate online. ***

Seeds of solidarity between Gill Tract Defense and AfrikaTown


The farm stand now provides defense, and a space to share food, for the community at AfrikaTown garden in Oakland.

For the third anniversary of the first Occupy the Farm action, and the first birthday of the resulting community farm, over 500 community members and students from across the state gathered for a direct action farmers market demonstrating our visions for the south side of the Gill Tract, set to become a union-busting greenwashed chain store by the UC’s privatization plans.

On Tuesday April 28th, in response to this enormous show of community support, the UC police came to the south side of the Gill Tract to dismantle the farm stand and plough the crops that were lovingly planted.


Though the UC succeeded in destroying the crops, farmers were able to preserve the farm stand. The farm stand is now providing defense, and a space to share food, for the community at AfrikaTown garden in Oakland.

“Uwezo wote wa watu! We are appreciative of the farm stand from Occupy the Farm being stationed in Afrika Town. We will make productive use of it. This is a positive step towards building solidarity in multiple communities around the idea of working together to liberate the land.”

– Abdul-Rahman Shakur, Quilombo

After weeks of building solidarity, brought the farmstand down to the AfrikaTown garden in Oakland, which is facing imminent threat of bulldozing for a gentrifying development project. This past weekend, Gill Tract and AfrikaTown farmers rebuilt the farm stand at this other site of struggle so that it can be productively used in their programs to feed the community, and to help in their efforts to defend the land.

“The transfer of the farm stand structure from the Gill Tract defense weekend to Afrika Town shows much more than the practical sharing of resources between two grassroots land defense efforts. It symbolizes building solidarity and bridging networks between communities that actively attempt to create justice-based food systems–the kind that prioritizes the needs of real people over profit-obsessed machines of commerce. It shows that the fight to protect a parcel of prime farm land, from being paved over to develop a supermarket that caters to a middle class clientele, is intimately tied to the struggle to defend a black community’s food garden from getting bulldozed to build more high-end condos for further gentrification.

– Susan Parks, local urban farmer and food justice organizer

Destroying food that could feed people, cutting trees that help us breathe: This is what our public university does to demoralize and destroy community resistance to their profit-driven privatization plans. But our community is stronger than their destruction, and strong communities are the roots of resilience.


This is solidarity. This is a resilient community building strength. This is the movement we aim to cultivate.

If you want to get involved with Occupy the Farm, you can take this quick survey and we’ll contact you to get plugged in.

REAL Farmers Market Success! Today: Call Sprouts

Dearest Farmrades,

We are blown away and deeply grateful to the community support that poured in for the struggle for the Gill Tract this weekend. Thank you to everyone who made the weekend such a successful and beautiful celebration of the enduring, resilient, 20 year struggle for this piece of historic public farmland.

We have a lot of work still to do to kick out Sprouts and to preserve this land. If you want to join the team and get plugged into organizing, please take this quick survey, or support our work by donating online.

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On land that was once a historic arboretum, where the UC recently slashed 60 trees at dawn with armed guard, we rallied together as a community to build the world we want to live in. With a collective voice, we declared that we want a #REALfarmersmarket, not a Sprouts supermarket.

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Check out these amazing pictures from Kelly Johnson Revolutionary Photography, and check out Occupy the Farm’s facebook page for the video of Ayla Nereo’s performance, the march, raising the farmstand roof, and so much more.

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Meanwhile, over 50 student farmers from across the University of California gathered together to discuss the privatization of our education and our food system, and SEAL launched a sign-on letter for students across the state of California, declaring that: It is in the public interest of the state of California and the world for our land-grant public research university to pursue research and education for a living future.” Please spread the word to any UC, CSU, or CC students you know across the state!

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UC student gardeners at the Gill Tract standing in solidarity with the Immokalee Farmworkers in Florida demanding #FairFood. All farmers united for labor justice in the food system!

*** TODAY: Call Sprouts: Stop Paving Farmland! ***

Today, people across the country are giving Sprouts administrators a call letting them know that we don’t want their greenwashed, union-busting chain on historic farmland. Join us!

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Here is a sample script to try: “Hello my name is ____, and I live in _____. I’m calling to demand that you not build a Sprouts on the historic Gill Tract Farm in Albany, California. We want a REAL farmers market, not more supermarkets! I will continue to Boycott your store until you pull out of this development.

You can also check out our Frequently Asked Question on the Occupy the Farm website if you want any rebuttals to the lies that they have been fed by the UC’s Capital Projects. Yes, this land IS farmland, and no, the community does NOT want them here!

Ted Frumkin, Senior Vice President – Business Development

Seth Brown, Vice President – Store Development

Elizabeth Hoxworth, Director of Real Estate in CA

Don’t forget our SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN! 

Take a photo of yourself with your definition of a REAL farmer’s market, and tweet or Facebook : @sproutsfm Don’t pave over the Gill Tract for your greenwashed, union-busting chain! #BoycottSprouts  #GillTractDefense  #OccupyTheFarm

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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 actions, no matter where in the world you are.

*** PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK! Donate online. ***

Farmers Occupy Proposed Development Site with Homegrown Farm Stand

Albany, CA—Following Saturday night’s occupation of the Gill Tract’s south side, a piece of urban farmland slated to become a chain supermarket, celebrations continue today on both sides of the farm. On Saturday 4/25 over 400 people joined the Permaculture Action Day hosted by the UC Gill Tract Community Farm. Bay area residents and UC students from across the state participated in an exciting day of farming, workshops and music.

Shortly before 5pm, Occupy the Farm, joined by community farmers, students and the East Bay permaculture community, marched down San Pablo Ave to the south side of the Gill Tract. Together, the crowd, in an act of civil disobedience, built a farm stand on the site of the proposed union-busting corporate supermarket, Sprouts “Farmers Market.” The private development would pave over 5-6 acres of the historic Gill Tract Farm.

Music, performances, storytelling, and an outdoor screening of INHABIT lasted into the night, as farmers and neighbors pitched tents to occupy the threatened land.

The celebrations continue Sunday 4/26.  From 10-2, the South Side Farmers Market is hosting local queer farmers and farmers of color, a local soup maker, as well as workshops and music throughout the day.

Meanwhile, on the north side, the UC Gill Tract community farm is celebrating the community farm’s one-year birthday party. Highlights include planting in the children’s garden, otherwise known as the Ladybug Peace and Justice Patch.

Finally, UC Berkeley’s Students for Engaged and Active Learning (SEAL) has called for an Inter-UC gathering at 1:30pm, including a panel on scholar-activism.

Join us for the second day of celebration of land, labor, life, and learning!

Join us for our REAL farmers market!

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See more photos from Kelly Johnson Revolutionary Photography


Week of Success!

Dear Farmrades,

Thank you for all of your support over the past month. From our first Boycott Sprouts action at Walnut Creek at the beginning of March, to the third (and fourth!) ones yesterday, this month has been packed to the gills with success stories and community mobilizations of support. There are still more big days coming up right around the corner- thank you for sticking with us for this ride!

Ways to support right now: please support our work by donating online, or take this quick survey to help us connect you to roles in actions, no matter where in the world you are.


* WEDNESDAY 4/15: HOP ON THE BUS! #Fightfor15 and #BoycottSprouts

On April 15th, urban farmers from the UC Gill Tract Community Farm, Occupy the Farm, other food and climate justice communities, and fast food workers joined together to challenge industrial agriculture and fast food corporations, build worker power, and fight for complete transformation of the food system.

FIRST STOP: 8am, Fight for Fifteen action at McDonalds in Oakland

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Fast Food workers, farmers, and UC students took action at a local McDonalds at 8am, in conjunction with Fight for Fifteen actions happening all across the country, to demand $15/hour and a union. Using creative street theater disruptions, speakers, a banner drop, and pickets, organizers shut down the corporate fast food outlet and supported workers walking out on strike.  At the drive-through shut down, we distributed free burritos made with veggies from the UC Gill Tract Community Farm.


12pm, Sprouts “Farmer’s Market” Grand Opening in San Rafael

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After morning actions, fast food workers hopped on the bus with us for the Boycott Sprouts action at the grand opening of a Sprouts “Farmers Market” in San Rafael to protest the greenwashing, union-busting corporate supermarket’s plans to pave the historic Gill Tract Farm. Sprouts is known for their low pay, labor violations and union-busting –these workers also deserve $15/hour and a union. The action included pickets, speakers, and music.

Check out more amazing photos from Peter Menchini and Kelly Johnson Revolutionary Photography!

During our jubilant ‪#‎boycottsprouts action, we caught wind of another protest against a Sprouts development, happening that same day out in a small town in Napa. Some OTF organizers headed out to the agricultural community, where local community members are also protesting a local school selling off their land to a Sprouts development.

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Check out their website and sign their petition.

Here’s an example comment you could leave along with your signature on the petition: “I stand with the Napa community as an ally from the Boycott Sprouts campaign (www.BoycottSprouts.com). Sprouts is a big-box, commercial supermarket that calls itself a “Farmers Market” while paving over our historic farmland at the Gill Tract. I stand with all communities across the country who are protesting against this environmentally-devastating Sprouts chain, and undemocratic development projects.”


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A Chance for Justice for the Gill Tract Farm

“Civil rights lawyer Dan Siegel, representing the community, argued that the point of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is to guarantee the public the right to information on the environmental impacts of development projects. He argued that the EIR’s failure to provide data on alternatives impinged on Albany citizens rights, prohibiting them from advocating for a project with less environmental and health impacts.”



Join us at the Gill Tract Community Farm as we recognize the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day with a two day celebration of farming, workshops, music, and fun in the spirit of the 45 year history of the Gill Tract Farm.


April 25 – Permaculture Action Day!

The Polish Ambassador, Ayla Nereo and the Permaculture Action Tour return to the Gill Tract!

10am: Opening Ceremony and Morning Movement
11am: Sheet Mulching and Building A Resilient Food Ecosystem
12:30: Local Lunch & Music by Cello Joe
2: Creating a Just Transition: 
Featuring Art Ludwig, Dr. Gail Myers, Penny Livingston, Kirtrina Baxter, moderated by Gopal Dayaneni
3:30: Aztec Dancers: Calpulli Huey Papalotl
4: Music and Dancing with Splendor
5: Special Guest & Closing

All day: Sheet Mulching, Workshops on Energy Justice and Community Power, Edible Commons, Drought Land Permaculture, Caring for Potted Fruit Trees, Vocal Improv, and Solar Cooking!


April 26: Birthday Party for the Gill Tract Community Farm Project

10am: Decolonizing Yoga Workshop and Morning Movement
11am: Storytelling with Farm Elders: Gill Tract Oral Histories
12: Lunch and Speakers from Soil Not Oil Coalition
1:30: Gathering of UC Student Gardeners
3: Panel with Scholar-Activists
5: Closing Ceremony: Visioning the year ahead

All day: Farm Tours, Donation Farm Stand with produce from local Queer Farmers of Color (10-2) and the Community Farm (3-5), Planting Summer Crops in the Community Farm, Kid’s planting in the Ladybug Peace & Justice Patch


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 actions,  no matter where in the world you are.

***PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK! Donate online.

Shutting Down Sprouts Supermarket….

Reportback from the #GilltractDefense and Boycott Sprouts action on March 14, 2015 in Walnut Creek, Calif.

By Kaitlin Oki and Kat Perkins


Arranged in a human blockade in the main entrance of the Sprouts Farmers Market in Walnut Creek, California Saturday afternoon, I and two dozen others held a sit-in around the remnants of one of the 53 trees demolished in late February in preparation for the construction of Sprouts’s newest location: the Gill Tract in Albany, California. In defiance of the commercial development of the last remaining agricultural land in the Albany-Berkeley area and the destruction of the Gill Tract Community Farm, Occupy the Farm activists, Fast Food Workers Union delegates, veterans, students, and community members picketed, bearing the branches of the felled trees, chanted to the tunes of the Brass Liberation Orchestra and Occupella, and spoke about the boycott.

The best part came with an entourage of ralliers armed with shopping carts, marching into Sprouts “Farmers Market” to the head-turning resonance of brass instruments and snare drums. As I danced between the aisles of individually packaged containers of dried fruit and gourmet candies, I mused that this was probably the closest the store had come to resembling an authentic farmers market. You know — the kind with actual farmers, live music, and values not preceded by dollar signs.image05

What a travesty! The whole situation is so absurd it makes me laugh. Not only does the corporate chain of Sprouts continually misrepresent its products as “local” and “natural” and plaster its walls with romanticized agricultural imagery, but it also neatly packages the entirety of its capitalist culture, union-busting actions, and monolithic corporate structure within stucco walls and hardwood floors and labels it in big green letters: FARMERS MARKET. And then proceeds to layer a thick slab of cement and pavement atop the last remaining bit of viable agricultural land in the Berkeley-Albany area. Land rich with humus and sweat and tears. Land sold by the Gill family almost hundred years ago to the land-grant University of California for the purposed of agricultural research to benefit the public. Land labored, loved, and defended by dozens of student farmers, stewarded and shaped by the hands of a community for the development image00of community. Not simply rows of beautiful purple kale and hearty beans and summer squash, but the tangible staging ground for defiance in the face of the privatization and commodification of public resources (e.g., food, land, and education) and the destruction of community common spaces and active civic participation. At the very least, I hope Sprouts customers can recognize the blatant irony if not the atrocious insult of abusing the phrase “farmers market” in this way.

A visibly puzzled Walnut Creek shopper turned to me amongst the commotion, “What’s going on?” I explained, “We’re farmers of the Gill Tract— one of the last pieces of farmland in the Berkeley-Albany area. And this store is trying to pave over our farm, so we’re protesting — disrupting Sprouts’ business as usual until they stop disrupting our community.”



Indeed, a handful of the Sprouts staff stood by passively at the back of the store behind rolling smartphone cameras. A fellow rallier repeatedly asked a butcher, “Excuse me. Can I please get five pounds of ribeye?” who politely nodded and then mysteriously disappeared behind the meats counter. Sprouts customers quickly grew more confused and/or annoyed trying to navigate the now crowded aisles. Business, indeed, was not proceeding as usual. A few moments later, and a police officer redirected me toward the second entrance, where Sprouts customers and ralliers alike headed in a sudden exodus, police nipping at our heels. I abandoned my half-full grocery cart and followed suit.

Abruptly, not more than ten feet ahead, grocery carts fell noisily to the floor in front of the automatic sliding doors. In the next moment, a storefront display was upset, and within seconds, multiple police swiftly rushed past me and shoved their way through the crowd, handcuffed the woman now down on the sidewalk, and escorted her to a police vehicle parked on Geary Road. The rally kept pace, shouting in unison, “Let her go! Let her go!” and offering the woman reassurance through the tinted glass. Another minute, and the police car sped away.


Infuriated and distraught, we returned to the storefront. Briefly it seemed the positive energy and enthusiasm of the rally would dissipate. At this point, however, one of the rally organizers picked up the bullhorn. He reminded us that we would not back down in the face of adversity and police diversionary tactics — that we would continue to exercise our rights and challenge oppressive institutions, be it police, corrupt UC regents, or the privatization of the commons. And after all, we had just successfully shut down the store. That said, the brass band picked up their instruments, and dancing and chanting ensued once again.

image01It’s exactly this kind of attitude that restores my faithincreating positive change in a world that often seems unkind. It’s the kind of thing that reawakens my heart when my mind has become saturated with one tragic news headline after another. And to know this is only the beginning, only the first of many things to come — that gives me hope. We’re not stopping now, nor anytime soon — not until Sprouts and the University of California drop the idea of paving over any inch of our twenty acres. We will disrupt business as usual until they terminate their contract with the University. We will continue to point out the hypocrisy of police who enact violence on our communities, target women of color, and protect the theft of public resources. I think I can speak on the behalf of many present at the rally when I say that I felt a renewed commitment to action against corporate land grabs, greenwashed groceries, and a privatized University of California.




#BoycottSprouts Stores to Save the Gill Tract Farm

Protest Sprouts Stores With Us or Where You Live to Save the Gill Tract Farm. Please visit www.boycottsprouts.com and share this post by email, facebook, and whatever means you have.

Yesterday, March 14, 2015, over 150 people held a protest outside Sprouts Farmers Market in Walnut Creek to save the 20 acre Gill Tract Farm. The national grocery store chain intends to pave over a historic piece of farmland in Albany, CA, just north of Berkeley and Oakland, to build a supermarket that is not truly a farmers’ market. With continuous actions to disrupt Sprouts stores throughout the country, of which there are hundreds, we can get Sprouts to drop the contract with the University of California at Berkeley and preserve the Gill Tract farmland to create a community center for regenerative agriculture, education, and local, organic food production.

We need people to organize protests, boycotts, shop-ins, creative disruptions and direct actions at Sprouts Farmers Market locations across the United States to pressure the company to not develop the land.

After the 2012 Occupy The Farm action, Whole Foods dropped the contract they held to build a grocery store on the land, under community pressure that said, “We need this farmland for farming.”

Occupy the Farm trailer:


We need people-powered agricultural innovation, and we need it fast.

NASA’s senior water scientist was just published in Newsweek –http://www.newsweek.com/nasa-california-has-one-year-water-… – saying that California, which produces much of the food for the entire country, and much of the food for the world, has one year of water left within the context of the current drought and our current agricultural and industrial water-use practices. The Gill Tract Community Farm, which is home to three creeks, has the potential to a be a 20-acre research and educational farm to demonstrate the regenerative food growing techniques and strategies that can bring us into a healthy future where people eat well, water cycles are replenished, and soil and ecology is improved.

The same water scientist said that, “Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.” There is no time to allow for the current corporate and government structures to run their course. We need grassroots, people-powered, direct action now to create the future we want to live in. Join us in preserving this land and pioneering a center for regenerative food production, permaculture, and agro-ecology. It is through these methods that we can catch and store rainwater in the land, build topsoil, and produce an abundance of local, organic, healthy food for everyone.

This is an invitation to take action where you live. Look here –https://www.sprouts.com/stores/search – to find a store closest to you. Call your friends, co-workers, and extended network. Organize a protest. Hand out flyers calling for a boycott of Sprouts Farmers Market, found here –http://www.boycottsprouts.com/#!resources/cnsl – for printing. If you’re daring, organize a shop-in, disruption, or take other creative action to let Sprouts know we can’t let them develop this land. Here’s how we organized yesterday’s protest – http://www.boycottsprouts.com/… – and how you can organize one at your local Sprouts. Mimic this model, pull bits and pieces, or come up with your own. Every action, and every person, makes a huge difference.

Watch the video of yesterday’s protest here –

Through our collective action to stop the damage being done to our communities and the earth, we open the door to create the alternatives we want to see. Be a part of it.

Contact OccupyFarm@gmail.com for guidance in how to organize a protest where you live, or to get involved locally.

Thank you,
Concerned Gill Tract Farmers


Support Occupy The Farm on March 14th

#GillTractDefense Rally at Sprouts


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