Farmers Build Farm Stand to Protest Sprouts Development at UC Berkeley’s Gill Tract

Contact: Matthew McHale, 562-754-8756 matthewmchale@outlook.com
Vanessa Raditz, 202-510-6861 vraditz@gmail.com

Albany, CA—At the end of an exciting day of farming, workshops and music at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm on Saturday, Occupy the Farm led a procession of community farmers, students and the East Bay permaculture community down San Pablo Ave to the south side of the Gill Tract to build a farm stand on the site of the proposed supermarket, Sprouts “Farmers Market.” The private development would pave over 5-6 acres of the Gill Tract.

The farmers are building the farm stand to protest “Sprouts’ and UC Berkeley’s privatization of community land, public education, and local food and farming” the coalition stated. It will also highlight what a real farmers’ market on the Gill Tract could look like, by selling food grown at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm and by local queer farmers and Farmers of Color.

“Our community doesn’t need another corporate supermarket,” says Albany resident, Ed Fields.

The weekend of farming will continue at the Farm on Sunday, with a celebration of the one-year anniversary of the UC Gill Tract Community Farm, permaculture education, kids’ planting workshops, live music, farm tours, and speakers.

Full event details are below, and at https://gilltractfarm.wordpress.com/

This action is a continuation of 20 year struggle by students, faculty, and the community to protect the entirety of the Gill Tract and turn it into an Urban Farm.

“Our land grant University should be honoring its mission of research and education for the public interest, with a center for Urban Agriculture and Food Justice on all 20 acres of this historic farmland, which could include a real farmers’ market,” says Camille Fassett, a student studying food systems at UC Berkeley, and member of SEAL (Students for Engaged and Active Learning).

On Monday, the coalition will hold a national call in day, urging Sprouts’ executives to pull out of the development on the Gill Tract.

Local farmers stress that the Sprouts corporation also hurts farmers and workers through its business and labor practices. “Sprouts is not a farmers’ market,” says Hank Herrera, founder of New Hope Farms & Gill Tract Farm Coalition member. “Using that name for a big-box supermarket is an insult to local farmers who are actually working to fix our broken food system.”

Main Press Times

  • Saturday, 5 pm – Erecting the Farm Stand
  • Sunday, 10 am – Farmers celebrate one-year anniversary of the Community Farm

Weekend Schedule

April 25: Permaculture Action Day
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: Closing

April 26: UC Gill Tract Community Farm Birthday Party!
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