Tag Archives: Gill Tract

Occupy the Farm: ‘We’ll keep coming back’

An Occupy the Farm supporter holds a new start that's ready to be planted. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Despite four arrests Monday and the destruction by UC Berkeley of seedlings they had planted in rows over the weekend, Occupy the Farm activists returned to a plot of land in Albany that’s slated for development and began their work again Monday night.

“We’re not leaving this land,” said an Occupy the Farm spokeswoman, Lesley Haddock. “We’re going to continue to contest this space. We’re not going away.” … Continue reading »

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4 arrests, as Cal ends brief Albany occupation

Gill Tract, Occupy the Farm, May 11, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, May 18, 6:20 p.m. Activists say no charges were ultimately filed against the people who were arrested Monday.

Update, 3 p.m. A group of Albany residents has announced its plans to hold a counter-protest at 5:30 p.m. Monday in opposition to Occupy the Farm activities in Albany. The group plans to meet at the City Hall corner at Buchanan Street, “then walk or ride down to Monroe and show the news media that ALBANY SAYS NO TO OCCUPY.”

Update, 1:42 p.m. A UC Berkeley spokeswoman said four people were arrested Monday as the university resumed control of land in Albany’s University Village that had been taken over by activists who said they want to turn the land into an urban farm. Claire Holmes, a UC Berkeley associate vice chancellor who handles communications and public affairs, said one person was arrested early in the morning; two were arrested while interfering with the plow; and the fourth was reported to be interfering with police activities. Holmes identified the four as Erik Eisenberg, Ian Saxton, David Grefrath and Brooke Marino. All four were listed as in-custody at the Berkeley Jail by the Alameda County sheriff’s department, and scheduled for arraignment Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.  … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Urban farmers plan ‘short-form’ Gill Tract occupation

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Following a recent announcement by urban farming activists about plans to “occupy” an empty lot in Albany that’s slated for development, UC Berkeley officials have issued a statement urging local residents to prepare for “potential traffic obstructions” should “illegal activities proceed” this coming weekend.

“The university will not allow a permanent encampment on our property,” said George Breslauer, UC’s executive vice chancellor and provost, and John Wilton, UC’s vice chancellor of administration and finance, in the prepared statement. (Scroll down to see the full statement.)

The activists, who call themselves ‘Occupy the Farm,’ put out a call Wednesday to ask supporters to speak out against the planned development at a city meeting in Albany that night, and to come out at noon on Saturday to “launch an action that manifests the highest and best use of the Gill Tract farmland!” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-Ed: Disappointed but still inspired at the Gill Tract

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[On Friday November 16, 2012, the University of California (UC) razed all of the publicly planted crops on the Gill Tract.]

Occupy the Farm is disappointed that the UC has unneccessarily destroyed the hard work of the community and food that could have fed it. Over the course of the last month, members of the public sowed edible winter greens together with fava beans, a popular and effective cover crop. Had the UC left these in place, the … Continue reading »

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Officials push UC Berkeley mixed-use project forward

A drawing from an October 2011 University of California presentation on the mixed-use project designed for University Village; Monroe Street splits the project in two. The site is bordered by San Pablo Avenue to the east. Source: University of California, Berkeley
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Plans for a senior living complex, new retail shops and a grocery store in Cal’s University Village in Albany have cleared another hurdle despite a campaign by activists over the summer to stall the development.

The Albany City Council voted Monday night to rescind what some saw as a controversial contract between the city and the property owner, the University of California, rather than to delay further by putting project approval before the voters in a special election.

(Albany City Clerk Nicole Almaguer said an election could cost from about $52,000 to about $122,000, depending whether the city required polling stations or opted for mail-in ballots only.) … Continue reading »

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News

Cal razes latest Occupy the Farm greens at Gill Tract

Urban farming activists have continued to plant at Albany's Gill Tract, a University of California-owned research field, since trying to take over the land earlier this year. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The latest development in the battle over the future of a hotly contested research field in Albany took place Friday when the UC Berkeley dean who oversees the land released a new open letter about his goals for the stewardship of the space.

Urban farming activists recently broke into the fenced-off Gill Tract field to plant about 2,000 winter greens. They announced plans to continue working part of the field in the coming months, in conjunction with hosting several community forums and vegetable distributions. In October, they held a pumpkin carving event, and last week they organized a forum in North Oakland to “discuss how we can work together to strengthen local struggles for land, food, and power — at the Gill Tract Farm and beyond.”

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said, as of Friday evening via email, that “The occupy crops are no longer there.” … Continue reading »

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News

Cal: No GM crops at Gill Tract, research work is under way

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UC Berkeley has released an open letter to update the community on the state of play at Gill Tract, which, until May 14, was being occupied by a group of farm activists known as the Gill Tract Farmers Collective. The letter says that preparations for agricultural research are now under way at the university-owned site, which is just over the Berkeley border in Albany on San Pablo Avenue, and sets out to dispel what it calls several “myths and misunderstandings” that have appeared in the media, in blogs and in online forums.

Meanwhile, Occupy the Farm is organizing a Planter Box Rally at Gill Tract on Saturday May 19, followed by a Community Forum on Visions for Food Sovereignty and Food Justice. It is also collecting signatures on a petition that aims to “tell the university that farm land is for farming.” … Continue reading »

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News

UC Berkeley regains control of Gill Tract from activists

Occupy 5.14.12-2
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The Occupy the Farm activists who took over UC Berkeley-owned Gill Tract in Albany on April 22 had largely dispersed by 3:00 pm Monday after the university sent in 100 police officers from eight of the ten UC campus to clear the protesters from the property early in the day.

UC Police have set up barricades at the main entrance to the fields on San Pablo Avenue, and are preventing anyone from parking on the stretch of the avenue that fronts the property. A few activists were present outside the gate and across the street from the site, as was a TV crew, this afternoon, but otherwise the scene was quiet.

A total of nine arrests were made at around 6:30 am this morning, two for trespassing and the others for unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and resisting arrest. A solitary protester remains on the site. He has taken up residence in a tree, according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof, who says the police are leaving him alone for now. … Continue reading »

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News

Police raid, clear out Occupy the Farm, handful of arrests

Unconfirmed reports suggest about five people were detained. Photo: KGO
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Update, 11:35 am: Latest reports suggest police arrested nine people in this morning’s raid on Occupy the Farm. Close to 100 police from every University of California campus except San Diego and Merced participated in the operation, according to Albany Patch. At 9:44 one young man remained on the Gill Tract property, about 15 feet up in a tree. UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said police would maintain a “stepped-up presence” in the coming days to allow researchers to prepare their fields for planting.

Original story: Several dozen police in riot gear went to the Occupy the Farm encampment at Gill Tract in Albany at around 6:00 am this morning to clear out the remaining protesters. … Continue reading »

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News

UC Berkeley speaks of impasse, seals off Occupy Farm

The main entrance to Gill Tract, which has been occupied by activists since April 22, was today locked by UCPD. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Update, Friday May 11, 1:00 pm: UC Berkeley says it will hold a planning meeting tomorrow morning, led by the dean of the university’s College of Natural Resources, Keith Gilless, and that two members of Occupy the Farm would be allowed to attend on condition that the group leaves Gill Tract by 10:00 am Saturday.

In a statement issued at 12:39 pm today, UC Berkeley says the meeting will be attended by city of Albany officials, members of the Albany community, residents of University Village and UC Berkeley faculty members and students and will “tackle the details of how the Gill Tract will be shared by our researchers and urban agriculture, and how the effort will be supported, coordinated and sustained under the university’s supervision.”

Read the full UC Berkeley statement dated today, May 11. … Continue reading »

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News

Activists: Farming and academic research can coexist

Farm activists at BART
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The group calling itself the Gill Tract Farmers Collective that took over UC Berkeley-owned land in Albany 19 days ago issued a statement Wednesday evening in which they said they believed urban farming and academic research could “coexist and benefit one another on public farmland”. They added that they felt police activity on the site yesterday morning had impeded a Cal professor’s work and been unnerving for an elementary school situated across the street from the open land.

The statement was largely a description of what happened at the site yesterday, and did not address UC Berkeley’s latest move which was to file a lawsuit against Occupy the Farm. That action was made public at around 1:30 pm yesterday.

A group of around 50 people gathered at North Berkeley BART station Wednesday at around 6:00 pm and marched to Gill Tract to show support for the activist farmers. … Continue reading »

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UC files lawsuit against Occupy the Farm

A news helicopter flew over the Gill Tract Wednesday. Photo: Ira Serkes
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After sending in police early Wednesday to erect barricades around the Gill Tract, the University of California filed a lawsuit against 14 members of Occupy the Farm.

The university said the legal action was “an additional step that the University is taking to regain control of its property so that it can be used for agricultural research and education.” But the university pointed out that the occupiers could still accept the university’s proposal “that would allow for a peaceful end to the illegal encampment, resumption of research activities and the continuation of urban farming on portions of the land that will not be utilized by faculty and students.”

The lawsuit and non-confrontational barricading of Occupy the Farm appears to reflect the university’s new, gentler approach to dealing with protestors. Last week, Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edley and UC Vice President and General Counsel for Legal Affairs Charles Robinson delivered a report conducted after the violent confrontations with Occupy activists last fall. It concluded that the university should back off from the use of force, including batons and pepper spray, in confronting protesters and instead rely on mediators or de-escalation techniques. … Continue reading »

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News

UC Berkeley police block access to Occupy The Farm

Occupy Farm May 9
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UC Berkeley police arrived at the Occupy the Farm encampment at Gill Tract in Albany early this morning in order to block incoming vehicle access to the property. They told activists they do not plan to make arrests.

Several UCPD officers were at the camp as early as 6:00am, according to reports by the Daily Cal and Albany Patch. They used bicycle locks to lock the West gate of the Farm and blocked the East gate to San Pablo Avenue with a concrete barricade.

The arrival of the police prompted TV news crews to dispatch helicopters over the site which were heard by many in north Berkeley as well as Albany.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof confirmed to ABC Local that UC police put concrete barriers in place at the two vehicle entrances to the property. He said cars not associated with the university would no longer be allowed in, but people on foot would still be able to come and go. … Continue reading »

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