SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Environment & Forest Defense | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

Vegetables Bulldozed inside Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store
by BoycottSprouts.com
Friday Sep 27th, 2013 6:05 PM
In-Store Theatre Demands that Sprouts Pulls Out of Development Deal of Community Farm Land

Today, Friday, September 27, 2013, a group of vegetables were bulldozed inside an East Bay location of Sprouts Farmers Market--a grocery store chain with 160 locations throughout the Southwest and Western United States. Sprouts Farmers Market recently entered a development contract with the University of California Berkeley to develop what is currently a piece of agricultural land into a new store location and parking lot in the city of Albany, just north of Berkeley, CA. The development plan has spurred a campaign against the development project and the store: Boycott Sprouts (http://www.boycottsprouts.com).

Today, Friday, September 27, 2013, a group of vegetables were bulldozed inside an East Bay location of Sprouts Farmers Market--a grocery store chain with 160 locations throughout the Southwest and Western United States. Sprouts Farmers Market recently entered a development contract with the University of California Berkeley to develop what is currently a piece of agricultural land into a new store location and parking lot in the city of Albany, just north of Berkeley, CA. The development plan has spurred a campaign against the development project and the store: Boycott Sprouts (http://www.boycottsprouts.com).

A group of people dressed in fruit and vegetable costumes, along with two children dressed as a bee and a hummingbird (calling attention to the loss of habitat for pollinators), entered the Walnut Creek location of Sprouts Farmers' Market at 6pm today. The vegetable people walked to the back of the store where they attempted to rally their comrade vegetables on the shelves to resist the development alongside them. When the shelved vegetables didn't respond, the vegetable people called upon the shoppers in the store to defend them from the impending "bulldozing of their farm."

As the actors dressed as grapes, carrots, tomatoes, and brussels sprouts informed Sprouts shoppers that the piece of community farmland where they grow would soon be bulldozed and turned into a parking lot without their help, a big yellow cardboard bulldozer came steaming down the aisle proclaiming "the parking lot goes here!" as it approached the scared and scurrying vegetables.

The land in question is known as the Gill Tract Farm and was given to the University of California in the early 1900s for the purposes of agriculture and education. Since then, although a large portion of it has already been developed for non-agricultural purposes, much of the land has served as research farmland for ecological agriculture. BoycottSprouts.com states that, "the soil your market and parking lot would pave over is a rare natural resource for our urban community…[with] value to its Bay Area neighbors, and to the educational community at UC." BoycottSprouts.com links to two petition hosting websites where, along with paper petitions, over 300 signatures have already been collected, many from Sprouts shoppers themselves, insisting that the company pull out of the development deal.

Whole Foods Market--the much larger grocery store chain--pulled out of the same development deal with the UC in 2012 after a protest action called attention to the contestation of the land's use. Organizers of today's in-store theatre say they want everyone to realize that, "land has value". "People should think of all the possible uses for this land before it is given away to the lowest common denominator money making scheme," said one out-of-costume land defender, "We are the public and the public has concerns about how this land will be used."
§
by BoycottSprouts.com Friday Sep 27th, 2013 6:05 PM


Comments  (Hide Comments)

I think there could be a compromise here. Unfortunately with the Sprout's chain ever increasing, the IndyBay people wanting the store plans completely removed may not have too strong of a chance to win here. Why not make it a WIN/WIN for both parties?? Keep a percentage of the surrounding land, encourage small growing crops, more trees, a spring/natural water system, a aquaponic/hydroplonic systems, and make that PART OF SPROUTS. Sprouts will promote its business by promoting the nature around it. Shoppers and employees of Sprouts and the surrounding community could get involved with an "urban farm" approach. You would go to Sprouts not only to shop but to be a part of a natural scene. There is a lot to be encouraged here... I never know why we can't have the cake and eat it too!!
by Frequent reader
Sunday Sep 29th, 2013 2:55 AM
Why is above commenter calling the protesters "Indybay people"? Indybay is an open publishing website, run by a volunteer collective. See website in the article above to find out more about the folks sponsoring this action.
THE ALBANY LAND HAS HAD HOUSES ON IT SINCE THE 1940'S AND WAS TORN DOWN IN 2006 BECAUSE THE STRUCTURES WERE NOT SAFE. THE LAND SPROUTS IS GOING ON IS NOT "AGRICULTURAL LAND". THE BLOG WRITTEN ABOVE IS MISLEADING. THE PIECE OF LAND ACROSS THE CREEK ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE TRACT HAS BEEN OFFERED BY THE UNIVERSITY TO BE USED AS AGRICULTURAL LAND.
by once it's gone, it's gone
Wednesday Oct 2nd, 2013 12:44 AM
The entire plot of land, over 100 acres, was originally farmland and was sold to the UC by the Gill family for cheap on the condition that the tract forever be used as farmland.

UC has never respected the wishes of the Gill Family, having already developed most of the land, including the small amount of housing built in the 1940s on the eastern side and the giant housing development that now fills the entire western side.

But it's misleading for Jason here to claim that permanently paving over a large section of the land for a shopping center anchored by a Sprouts grocery is no different than the military housing. The land in that area can still be used for farming, or other environmental purposes, even though it has been despoiled to some degree and is no longer Class One in its current state. Once that plot of land is paved over and a shopping center and parking lots are built there, however, it will be permanently lost as farmland.

For some history with maps and the UC's master plan for developing the last bits of farmland and potential farmland, see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/04/24/18712015.php.
by robertjm
Thursday Oct 17th, 2013 9:12 AM
You mention a promise by UC to keep all the land as farmland, and never have it developed. Where is this promise IN WRITING??? Secondly, the development that did take place was done for WWII housing so that the Kaiser Shipyard employees would have a place to live (they used to have a railroad spur that would take workers daily out to Richmond, and back) so blaming the UC for development, as opposed to the US military is a bit of a stretch. This particular land hasn't been used for farming since what, the 1930s? Getting over the hyperbole for a moment, they are NOT paving over land that is currently being used for farming. To say it is, IS A BOLD FACED LIE!!!