By Justin Ryan
April 28, 2012
On Earth Day, one of many powerful speakers in Ohlone Park called upon us all to engage in “Giftivism” and to “Disobey with great love,” discussing the need for communities to support its own needs in a way that every member of a community can “plug into.”
With horns playing, banners flying, and traffic briefly stopping, the Earth Day march from Ohlone Park in Berkeley started off with the hallmark signs of a bay area occupy protest, but something was different. There was a bold, if cautious optimism amongst this crowd.
For two miles we marched, chanting, dancing, and singing with armfuls and cartfuls of gardening and farming equipment, before reaching the Gill Tract just over the Albany border.
More incendiary words called upon us all to establish a community farm, and welcomed us into the tract to do just that. After marching deep into the field with chicken tractors, activists began to swarm like ants between the farm and delivery vehicles, bringing in armful after armful of seedlings, starter plants, and other farming supplies.
Over the course of the first day, as many as thirty 100 foot rows had been tilled and planted, a compost toilet had been constructed, a generator was in operation, and the UC Police Department, while notifying protesters multiple times that they were trespassing, showed no significant signs of planning action to remove anyone.
As I write this, six days into #OccupyTheFarm, there are reportedly over 78 rows as well as apple and cherry trees. People are camping and keeping watch all night to guard against police action, and a real community farm is alive and growing in Albany.
More info from TakeBackTheTract.com:
The coalition of local residents, farmers, students, and activists occupying the Gill Tract is currently in direct discussion with UC Berkeley Gill Tract researchers, contrary to claims put forth in the UC’s latest public statement. The UCB administration has not taken part in conversations between Occupy the Farm and researchers.
The UC has consistently acted in bad faith, disregarding community input. For decades, students, faculty, and local residents have tried to engage the UC in dialogue, articulating their desire to transform the Gill Tract into a center for sustainable urban agriculture.
Instead, the UC transferred administration of the Gill Tract from the College of Natural Resources to Capital Projects, the arm of the university responsible for managing development. The UC Village Master Plan would replace the current agricultural land with ambiguously-termed commercial, recreational, and “open” space. Farmland is for farming, and we cannot allow the UC to destroy one of the best resources for urban agriculture in the Bay Area.
Major Community Events Planned for Weekend
From 10 AM to sundown on Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and 29th, Occupy the Farm will host a weekend of workshops, farming and family fun! Events will including a special teach-in by Dr. Miguel Altieri, who has been conducting agroecological research at the Gill Tract since 1981. The workshop will begin at 12pm on Saturday, and Dr. Altieri will field questions from the media at 1pm.
Below is a full list of events to occur at the farm throughout the weekend.
10 AM: Yoga for radical farmers with Sri louise
11 AM: Intro to permaculture – Ryan Rising
12 – 1: Potluck lunch, seed planting all day w/ 10 min demos on the hour in the field
1-2 PM: Design charette – bring your visions, drawings, and ideas for the farm
2 PM: Corn planting (three sisters) w/ Ashoka
2 PM: Fermentation w/ erin @ kitchen
3 PM: Massage kale cooking, kitchen area
3 PM: Permaculture garden groundwork – pathways and planting beds in the children’s garden
4 PM: Indian cooking at the kitchen
4 PM: Seed bomb workshop w/ the youth!
5 PM: School house construction
5 PM: Folk music jam w/ lesley
5:45 PM: Blessing w/ Colin
6 PM: Sit down dinner
8 PM (Sunset): Movie and film screenings w/ popcorn!
Sunday : Throw the hoe down
10 AM: Meditation and yoga w/ colin
11 AM: Ladybug patch grand openeing and celebration – children’s edu garden and petting place
11:15-11:45 AM: Family yoga w/ Sheri Spellwoman at the Ladybug patch
12 PM: Lunch and poetry readings at the kitchen
1 PM: Hoe down and square dance
4 PM: Water Strider band
5 PM: Folk jam w/ lesley
6 PM: Sit down dinner