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.
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