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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Environment & Forest Defense
Gill Tract's First Community Farm Day — April 26, 2014: photos
After years of struggle with the University of California by numerous groups who pushed for the right of the community to farm at the Gill Tract — culminating with occupations by East Bay food sovereignty activists in 2012 and 2013 that ended with multiple arrests, a lawsuit against occupiers, the razing of crops, and simply forcing farmers off of the land — a new coalition of community members, UC Berkeley students, academics and staff have won permission to farm on one and a half acres of the Gill Tract into the indefinite future. On April 26, the gates to the farm swung open to the general public for the first Community Farm Day.
[Pictured: "Open Field Day" banner hangs at the Jackson Street entrance to the Gill Tract]
In 2012, occupiers were able to pull numerous harvests worth of vegetables from the Gill Tract, even after the Occupy the Farm encampment was forced off of the land, but now the new coalition is ready to make its first official community harvest without the fear of police reprisal. A party and barbeque are planned for Sunday, June 1 from 10am-4pm.
Open hours for the farm are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-7:30pm and Sundays from 10:00am-4:00pm. Anyone interested in urban farming is welcome to come by and help.
Gill Tract Community Farm: A farm for the people
For more information on the first Community Farm Day and Occupy the Farm history:
Information on the email list can be found at http://gilltractfarm.wordpress.com/.
The Mystic Truebudoors
Tasty vegan food was provided for hungry farmers by the Berkeley Student Food Collective. They have a storefront at 2440 Bancroft Way (#102).
Water provided by UC. In 2012, UC shut off the water and occupiers had to carry it in to keep plants alive.
Puppeteers performed to a number of songs, including their own variation of the Dead Prez classic "Hip Hop", updating it for the occasion to "Hip Crop."
Sadly, as of this writing, Elliot Hughes of the IWW, a committed local activist willing to risk his own personal freedom and safety for social and environmental justice, currently sits in Santa Rita jail for his work defending the Albany Bulb. He was arrested on May 29th. Friends and supporters are working hard to raise the $6,500 needed to bond him out. Please, help if you can.
Free Elliot! Arrested at Albany Bulb
The University of California has sold off most of the Gill Tract over the years, replacing the historic farmland with development from the San Francisco Bay almost the whole way to San Pablo Avenue at this point.
While the East Bay community has finally won the right to farm at the Gill Tract in Albany, the portion to the right/south of the trees in the satellite photo above is slated to be developed and paved over for a shopping center anchored by a Sprouts grocery store. The struggle to preserve all of the remaining open space at the Gill Tract continues. For more information on the Boycott Sprouts campaign, see https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/05/18751959.php.
Before the trees were planted, the dietary importance of acorns to the native Ohlone peoples was discussed.