#OccupyTheFarm Harvest July 7, 2012 Albany CA
July 9, 2012
As many as 75 Occupy the Farm farmers preempted Saturday an Albany Council invite-only harvest of crops planted by the activist group in April at the Gill Tract, a 5-acre plot of class 1 agricultural land owned by UC Berkeley used for crop research, and delivered to the UC Berkeley Chancellor a barrow’s-full of bolted lettuce in a symbolic gesture.
The group occupied the land for three weeks in an attempt to create a local, sustainable urban farm, tilling the soil, removing weeds and planting crops – before UC Berkeley and Albany police raided the community farm and filed charges against the occupiers. The charges were eventually dropped.
“Dear Chancellor, This lettuce would have been delicious a few weeks ago, but now it is no more than a bitter harvest,” a note from the group read, pinned to the Chancellor’s house door. “The UC continues to show itself a poor steward of the land. We will help.”
“You can’t beet [sic] us, so lettuce [sic] farm already.”
Two Albany council members had attempted to arrange the invite-only party to harvest the crops but their clandestine plan was foiled by the group which issued a press release stating, “Occupy the Farm will crash an exclusive invite-only harvest party sponsored by the Albany City Council and UC Berkeley.”
“The city has organized a harvest party for a small hand-selected group. Participants in the Occupation are expressly forbidden from participating in the harvest of crops that were sown while Gill Tract was briefly open to the public.”
The preemption forced the City of Albany to cancel their plan.
By 9 am, Saturday, the farmers, activists and community members began to arrive at the Gill Tract in the presence of Albany police and University Village Security. The group opened the gates and began harvesting, weeding, and watering the crops they had sown. For the next few hours, people of all ages peacefully harvested the fruits of their labor.
A notice of trespass was read to the farmers, who continued to weed and work. Cucumbers, squash, beans, tomatoes, swiss chard, beets, and chamomile were brought out by the wheelbarrow load. Once the harvesting was finished, people gathered for a general assembly to discuss how to distribute the food.
A decision was reached to have a pickling demonstration at the Albany city council meeting today, where the council will discuss further planning for the Gill Tract.
Continuing live coverage and archived footage from the protests is available here.