Tag Archives: Gill Tract

UC Gill Tract Farm blooms amidst controversy

Melanie Charles, Mark Jones and Julia Raskin pick weeds at the Gill Tract farm on a recent Tuesday night. Photo: Kathleen Costanza.
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On a Sunday in early August, about 20 volunteers milled around the UC Gill Tract Community Farm, plucking weeds, harvesting tomatoes and weighing buckets brimming with leafy kale.

“What are we supposed to do with aphids again?” said Vivek Nath, a first-time volunteer, as he bent over to pick broccolini.

“They’re the little green bugs, you take off the pieces with a lot of them,” replied fellow volunteer Allen Barth. “Chickens like to eat ‘em.”

A collaborative project between UC Berkeley and the public, the UC Gill Tract Community Farm is a year-and-a-half old urban farm that has sprouted up on land embroiled in years-long controversy. Open six days a week, people can harvest organic produce in exchange for help weeding, watering or planting. On Sundays, volunteers set up a farm stand where all the food is free or offered for a donation. … Continue reading »

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University Village, Sprouts get (final) green light

A rendering of the new University Village development. Image: courtesy the City of Albany
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The disputed UC Berkeley land next to Albany’s Gill Tract is in contention no more. Last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the university to build a senior housing development and Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store on San Pablo Avenue in University Village.

Read more on Berkeleyside’s coverage of Occupy the Farm.

The development, on a long-vacant lot next to the Gill Tract research field, has been the site of protests since April 2012 on the part of Occupy the Farm, which has stated that UC Berkeley’s plans would “pave over a rare natural resource” and that the Gill Tract is “public farmland that belongs to the people.”

Stefanie Rawlings, of Occupy the Farm, originally filed a lawsuit against the city of Albany and UC Berkeley that alleged that the city’s approved Environmental Impact Report was deficient. When Rawlings lost the suit, she filed an appeal on the grounds that the report did not lay out appropriate alternatives for the building plan, and that the city did not appropriately consider the alternatives listed. … Continue reading »

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‘Fight for 15′ protesters march in Berkeley, Oakland

Fight for 15 marchers. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Update, 6:27 p.m. The intersection is now open, according to the Berkeley Police Department.

Update, 6 p.m. As per the Berkeley Police Department, “The intersection of University and Shattuck is closed due to a demonstration. It is unknown when the intersection will reopen.”

Original post, 5:01 p.m. As supporters of increasing the minimum wage to $15 marched through Berkeley late Wednesday afternoon, authorities warned of traffic and delays in the area, and helicopters hovered overhead to capture the action.

“Due to a protest march along Bancroft Way, Shattuck Avenue, University Avenue, and Martin Luther King Jr. Way/Milvia Street, there will be delays and possible detours in the downtown Berkeley area tonight, April 15,” according to an email alert sent by AC Transit at 4:46 p.m. … Continue reading »

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‘Fight for 15′ rallies planned for East Bay on April 15

Fast food workers march in Oakland in December. Photo: Annette Bernhardt/Flickr
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This Wednesday, Bay Area workers and activists plan to take to the streets as part of a worldwide mobilization of low-wage workers demanding higher pay.

Fight for 15, a national organization launched in 2012 and funded by major labor unions, is calling for a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour. Organizers say this week’s protests will be their largest action to date — and, they claim, perhaps the most widespread workers’ protest in U.S. history. Over 200 U.S. cities will see strikes and workers’ rallies, while sympathetic actions will occur on six continents.

Across the Bay Area, fast-food workers are preparing to walk off the job to protest low wages. These workers will form the heart of rallies and marches in Oakland and Berkeley that will also include home-care and childcare providers, industrial laundry, airport and Walmart workers. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Sprouts to Oakland, water restrictions, more

Sprouts Market. Photo: Sprouts
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Openings, closings…

SPROUTS MARKET HEADED TO OAKLAND While protests continue over a potential Sprouts Farmers Market in University Village in Albany (near the contested Gill Tract research field), the grocery store has quietly revealed plans for a location at 3001 Broadway, at the bottom of Pill Hill, in Oakland. Sprouts’ ABC license is pending, and its retail brokerage firm, Lockehouse, has put together a development plan for the space. The development looks like it will also include additional retail tenants. The proposal emphasizes the higher incomes of potential customers living in the Oakland Hills and Lakeshore neighborhoods, as well as the convenience to both the Alta Bates and Kaiser buildings. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as the project develops. Oakland’s Sprouts Farmers Market will be at 3001 Broadway (at 30th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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‘Occupy The Farm’ tells tale of local food activism

A newly released film, Occupy The Farm, tells the story of the occupation by activists of a piece of UC Berkeley-owned land in Albany, which began in April 2012 and continued on and off for nearly a year.

The protesters planted carrot, broccoli and corn seedlings on the 77-acre Gill Tract and questioned the stewardship of what they described as publicly owned urban farmland. UC Berkeley sent in police and issued a lawsuit before the activists eventually left. … Continue reading »

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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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