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UC destroys winter greens and cover crops planted by Occupy The Farm on the Gill Tract
A letter from a farmer regarding the destruction of winter greens and cover crops planted by Occupy the Farm on the Gill Tract by the UC.
On Friday November 16, 2012, UC Berkeley plowed under crops planted by ongoing Occupy the Farm protests at the Gill Tract in Albany, CA.
We are very disappointed that the UC destroyed the hard work of the community to develop a public urban farm on Gill Tract agricultural land.
This juncture - however expected - gives us a moment to recognize the progress toward protecting the agricultural land from UC development. The Gill Tract Farm itself produced thousands of pounds of food and valuable education for countless community members. Since April 22, 2012, collective actions of the public engaged around the Tract have resulted in: a modest 10-year guarantee for urban agriculture on the northern side of the land and the promise of a nebulous UC program for urban agriculture, a successful petition for referendum against the Albany City Council approval of UC development, and Whole Foods cancelling its development agreement with the UC entirely. Most importantly, thousands of people established a connection to the land.
We remember the politics around the Gill Tract in 1997, when the Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture engaged the UC in negotiations to preserve the land for urban agriculture. At the eleventh hour of negotiations, the Unviersity administration abruptly withdrew, thus demonstrating that its strongest interest lay in development, not a collaborative program with the community. The UC forged ahead with its plan for commercial retail on the last remaining open space at Gill Tract, south of the vital seven acres to the north.
The UC has failed to create an accessable and accountable democratic process to decide the fate of this valuable public asset. As a result, the community has rallied around a series of Open Forums to envision a future for the Gill Tract, hosted collaboratively by Occupy the Farm and regional Food Justice organizations. That these forums are well attended demonstrates that East Bay residents with an interest in urban agriculture seek inclusion in the planning process of such a program at the Gill Tract.
Support for a publicly-accessible and democratically-created urban agriculture center is the highest it's been since the days of BACUA. Occupy the Farm is excited to announce that a second-generation coalition of UC Professors, students, local residents and food justice organizations is mobilizing to engage in this planning process. As always, we invite anyone to participate, and, contrary to statements made by the UC, continue to extend a welcome to the UC administation as well.
We would also like to reiterate the importance of the southern portions of the Gill Tract, which are in dire need of soil testing and bioremediation. A truly comprehensive urban agriculture program at the Gill Tract would sieze the opportunity to create populist and accessible means of testing and amending soil contaminated by industry and development. As another act of good faith, we will be conducting comprehensive sampling and testing of the southside soils in the coming weeks, with the eventual goal of appropriate bioremediation.
To get involved or recieve updates of actions:
- find us on facebook as "Occupy the Farm"
- follow us on twitter @occupyfarm
- contact gilltractfarm [at] riseup.net
- text "gilltractfarm" to 41411 to recieve notifications via cell phone