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