Come Out to the Farm on EARTH DAY Weekend!

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Join us to celebrate EARTH DAY WEEKEND 4/23 – 4/24 at the Gill Tract where we will come together to BUILD OUR POWER and continue the fight to DEFEND THE LAND.

As many of you know construction has started on the southernmost part of the Tract below Monroe St. UC Berkeley has sold out that parcel of public land to be turned into a luxury senior housing complex. But we won’t let the rest of the southside of Gill Tract be paved into a corporate chain grocery store. It’s a critical moment as permits may be issued any day now. Let’s seize this weekend of celebrating and protecting Mama Earth to resist further threats to this historic farmland and greenspace.

We’ll have a weekend full of engaging activities planned including speakers, music, food, and much more, SO COME OUT ALL DAY EACH DAY AND PLAN TO STAY THE NIGHT.

Saturday 4/23
*12 Noon: meet on the corner of San Pable Ave and Monroe St.
*Activities will include altar building so bring decorative fabric, remembrance pictures/images, flowers, battery-powered lights, special/sacred objects, etc.
*5pm Speakers: TBA
*6pm Dinner served
*7pm Music: Namorados Da Lua (/www.namoradosdalua.com), Future Twins (www.facebook.com/FutureTwin/), DJ Jocelyn, and impromptu acoustic jam!
*Camp out under the stars!

Sunday 4/14
*We will go support the fun activities at the northside Community Farm.
*6:00 Dinner
*Night time film screening of “This Changes Everything” (the Naomi Klein film) w/ popcorn

Upcoming Event

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When: Monday, February 15th, 2016
Where:
The Gill Tract
San Pablo & Monroe Ave
Albany, CA
Why we gather:
1.  To rally as a community in support of the Gill Tract — public farmland currently under assault by commercial development.
2.  To gather groups planning actions to defend the land.  Groups are invited to share information so that individuals and other groups may act in support of one another, and coordinate if desired.
3.  To engage individuals that want to plug-in and help one or more of these groups.
Please visit our Facebook for more details. An event invite where you can RSVP will follow soon.

Three Silent Meditators Arrested After Halting Construction for a Second Time at the Gill Tract

Three farm defenders have been arrested for halting construction on the Gill Tract Farm in Albany, CA. This is the second action in the last two weeks meant to stop the destruction of this vital part of the living community. In all, five individuals sat in silent meditation in the path of heavy machinery that was removing the topsoil.

Despite obvious risks to the safety of those on site, contractors attempted to operate heavy machinery around them. One farm defender was cited for trespassing and released. Two others were taken in custody by the UC Police Department and sent to Berkeley City Jail and have since been released.

The meditators released a statement that included their reasons for taking taking a stand:

“Among the many reasons the Gill Tract must be protected are:  

1: Free-breathing wild or lovingly cultivated land sequesters carbon, the main cause of pollution and climate change.  

2: The careful communal cultivation of the land would be a source of locally grown organic food to feed the people without houses and destitute of our community.  

3: The land is the home for deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, hawks, owls and other wildlife whose habitat urban construction has greatly damaged and reduced.  

4: The land would provide the much-needed commons amidst the concrete hardness of the city in which community would be built in shared work and recreation; where families and children could learn to love and tend the land; where they could observe and learn of our fellow creatures, the four-legged and the winged, and other forms of life, insects and plants.”

Occupy the Farm vows to continue disrupting construction until the UC and its corporate partners cancel construction projects on the land. Delay and disruption tactics increase costs for the developer and have effectively caused several other socially and environmentally contested projects to be cancelled in the past.

UPDATE February 8th, 10:00pm

All meditators have been released and 3 have received a court date for their charges. Please plan to show your support by being at the courthouse and making it known that the land belongs to the people and that these brave defenders were acting out of necessity. Please visit the following links for time and date details:

Court date for the 5 brave Meditators

Court date for the bold lockdown by Jean and Jean

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on resistance to the development of the Gill Tract.

Farm defenders lock down to halt farmland destruction in the East Bay

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Farm defenders immobilize bulldozer with lockboxes

January 28th 2016

Albany, CA—Contractors with the UC administration began construction work on the southern portion of the Gill Tract, a historical farm sold to the University of California in 1928 under the condition it would be used for agricultural research and education. Contractors using a bulldozer, a backhoe, and an excavator began removing the valuable topsoil this week – until a group of farm defenders locked down onto the machinery to stop construction.

“We are putting our bodies on the line to halt construction and restart a public debate on the fate of this land,” explained Jean Mortensen, one of the protesters locked down to the excavator. The group Occupy the Farm vows to continue holding the lock-down until the University of California halts construction and returns the land for urban agroecology research.

The UC is privatizing this section of the Gill Tract for the construction of a high-end senior assisted living facility by the Belmont Village corporation, alongside construction of a Sprouts supermarket and a parking lot.

Community members, students, and UC faculty have put forth an alternative proposal to use all twenty acres of the historic Gill Tract as a Center for Urban Agriculture and Food Justice, serving the University of California’s mission of research and education for the public good, while also operating as a productive urban farm that provides students, workers, and community members with access to affordable local produce. This proposal better aligns with UC President Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative as well as the sustainability and climate mitigation policies of the state of California.

“We have tried every formal and institutional route for a more democratic decision on the fate of this land,” explains Gustavo Oliveira, a spokesperson for Occupy the Farm. “But the UC administration and their corporate partners only reconsider their plans for privatization when opposed by organized direct action.”

Farm defenders say their actions are very much in solidarity with recent organizing by local indigenous leaders, who have been holding ceremony and demanding access to the land for the purposes of research and education into indigenous lifeways.

Background:

The privatization and construction launched on the site has been contested by students, faculty, and members of the community for almost two decades. In 2004, the UC Regents approved commercial development despite years of campaigning by students, faculty, and community members for the preservation of the land for urban agriculture and food justice, and proceeded bulldozing greenhouses in 2008 and contracting with Whole Foods for development of the site.

In April 2012, Occupy the Farm reenergized this struggle by camping on the land and planting a publicly-accessible farm on the Gill Tract. Under pressure, Whole Foods pulled out of the proposed development, and the UC administration granted protection for a portion of the land, some of which is now the vibrant Gill Tract Community Farm.

However, the 7 acres of the southern portion of the Gill Tract remains slated for development with a shopping center anchored by Sprouts supermarket, a hihg-end senior housing complex, and a parking lot. UC Capital Projects now seeks to implement this project despite another occupation in May 2013 and other mobilizations on the land in 2014 and 2015, two lawsuits, an Albany City referendum effort, broad based and constant community participation at the Albany City Council in favor of preserving the farmland for agricultural use, and an ongoing campaign for Sprouts to drop its proposed construction project over the Gill Tract.

Press Kit: http://bit.ly/otfpresskit [Contains map, FAQ, quotes, history, previous articles, film]

occupythefarm.org
boycottsprouts.com

Developers have broken ground at the Gill Tract, the fight continues…

The southernmost parcel of the Gill Tract (south of Monroe Street) has been fenced off, and trenching and surveying has begun, in preparation for it to be bulldozed and paved for the high-end senior housing complex.  The shopping center site will surely be next.

Tenacious folks have been mobilizing around this terrible news, captured in this video titled “We’re Still Fighting!”.  In it, a group takes action to disrupt the development, and local elders explain why an over-priced senior housing project is the WRONG solution—both for seniors and for some of the last remaining farmland in the East Bay.

The struggle is far from over, and we applaud direct action to resist this latest attack on the land! Fill out this short survey to plug into our organizing from wherever you are, and…

Join us for upcoming actions!:

  1. Sprouts Supermarket Now In Our Own Backyards

We oppose Sprouts not only because they are the anchor tenant of the shopping center that threatens to pave the historic Gill Tract, but also because their greenwashing undermines *real* farmer’s markets and locally owned groceries.  Sprouts opened a new store last week in downtown Oakland, and we are UNwelcoming their arrival with repeated actions almost everyday.

Sprouts management has been sweating, and called out twenty Oakland Police officers last week to remove us, only to be informed that the constitution is on our side,  and we can’t be stopped from protesting on Sprout’s grounds. Help us keep up the pressure and inform neighbors about the boycott.  Ongoing dates and times will be announced on our FB event page.  The next one is: Wednesday Jan. 20th, 2-5:30pm, 3035 Broadway, Oakland

  1. THIS WEEKEND, January 23rd & 24th : Building with local communities through PeopleSkool, Music, and A Walk on the Gill Tract Sacred Land.

Saturday and Sunday in Oakland:  We invite you to join other OTF organizers and supporters in attending the inspiring two-day PeopleSkool, offered by POOR Magazine and Homefulness in East Oakland.  Through deepening our relationships and understanding of colonization and gentrification, we hope to build power together with POOR communities, especially around land liberation.

From PeopleSkool event page:  We Teach thru verse, prayer, talk-story, theatre, poetry and love.  As poor & indigenous peoples practicing what we call poverty skolaship/lived education taught, shared outside the institution we teach through the mulitple actions of poetry, verse, song,talk-story,theatre and prayer, all rooted in our own real life experiences.

Sliding scale & flexible tuition with proceeds supporting the important work at POOR.  Please register online and help us by sharing and inviting friends on facebook.

Sunday 3-5pm at the Gill Tract, San Pablo + Marin Ave, Albany:  Whether you’re able to attend PeopleSkool or not, join us for the culminating event, on the Gill Tract with music by RedStar and a walk, ceremony, and prayer on sacred land, lead by the Indigenous Land Access Committee. More info at https://www.facebook.com/events/1693590484213343/

* * * * * * * * * *
Other Ways to Support:

  • Fill out this short survey to plug into the action and other support from wherever you are!  (We are especially in need of more videographers.)
  • Invite folks to watch the documentary, now available online.
  • Donate online, we can only do this with your support.

OTF Supports Indigenous Ceremony at Gill Tract to Reclaim Native Land

On Sunday, October 11, a group of indigenous people held a sacred ceremony and observance on the historic Gill Tract Farm to honor the land and the ancestors who lived on the land for over 10,000 years.

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The gathering was convened by the Indigenous Land Access Committee (ILAC)—a group of Ohlone and other native people who envision reclaiming land stolen from them, honoring the land, honoring the ancestors who stewarded this land for millennia, and restoring spiritual and cultural lifeways in solidarity with indigenous people on every continent harmed by colonization.

For almost 20 years, the community around the historic Gill Tract Farm has struggled to preserve this land for a community center for sustainable agriculture. This section of the Gill Tract Farm where the ceremony is taking place is under imminent threat of being paved over for a shopping center with a Sprouts supermarket. The developer for the project filed for a building permit with the City of Albany on September 24th.

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But long before these 20 years of struggle for the use of the Gill Tract as a community farm, which ILAC supports, the site was occupied by colonizers who displaced the native Ohlone people. “Through this ceremony,” says ILAC member Hank Herrera, “we are calling for the recognition of this land as Ohlone territory, and its preservation as a space for restoring indigenous cultures and practices, including the reclamation of lifeways and foodways on the land that our ancestors called home.”

The inspiration for the ceremony was sparked by the interaction Herrera had with a UC Police Officer when he visited the second Occupy the Farm action on the Gill Tract in 2013. Hank Herrera, who is half-Ohlone, recalled that a UC Police Officer told him “you’re trespassing on University of California Land.” “On my way home,” says Herrera, “I kept turning over this thought in my head, ‘how can I be trespassing on land that my ancestors lived on thousands of years?’”

The gathering began when a group led by ILAC members and followed by supporters walked onto the South Side of Gill Tract, and cleared a circular space around a fire pit they built in the center. The ceremony started with prayers for land and singing to honor the ancestors. The ceremonial leaders planned to light a sacred sacred fire, which would burn for the whole ceremony. Although the Albany Fire Department approved the fire pit as safe, UC police threatened to shut down the whole ceremony and force everyone off the land if a fire was lit.

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Supporters also set up a welcome table, educational table and food service tables along the San Pablo Ave edge of the Gill Tract. Supporter Susan Park, a longtime Bay Area resident, expressed, “We are here in solidarity with Indigenous folks who are fighting to gain back sovereignty over their ancestral land.  Part of our support is to provide meals and other necessities for the comfort of ILAC members to reclaim this space, and to provide education on Indigenous rights, anti-racism and decolonization to the public.”

The ceremony which started Sunday afternoon continued with drumming into the night and will continue all-day Monday, which is Indigenous People’s Day, and will continue indefinitely until Native People’s demands have been met.

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**Occupy the Farm is in full support of ILAC’s ceremonial reclamation of GIll Tract.  We encourage you to come down this week to show your support as well.**

Be Prepared to Mobilize to Save the Gill Tract!

Dear Farmrades!

We have some unfortunate news.  Sprouts Supermarket—yes, that corporate chain store that’s just itching to pave over a historic farm land—filed for their building permit with the City of Albany on September 24th.  Does this mean the fight is over?  Hell No!  Please be on the lookout for calls to mobilize in order to save Gill Tract.

We need your support more than ever!!  With people power on our side, we know that we can defeat corporate and privatized interests.  Let’s take a stand for a truly local and just food system for the East Bay!

Fill out this short survey to plug into the action and other support from wherever you are!

Land to the People crop

Big Changes, All Hands on Deck for OTF ACTION on 7/16

Dearest Farmrades!

The bad news:

For 3 years, the commercial development project that is slated to pave the southern 7 acres of the historic Gill Tract Farm has been held off by a lawsuit.  On June 16th, the courts ruled in favor of the UC, citing that their polluting, privatizing, pavement project breaks no state laws.

The good news:

We’re still fighting HARD!  As of July 1st, we have a new tool to help us get the word out — the documentary film about the 2012 occupation is now online.  And a new action on Thursday July 16th (see below).
OTF Film_iTunes_03_small

Though the state law has failed us, we are committed to the laws of nature.  We know that the community surrounding the farm needs that land in more ways than one.  It already ranks in the top 22% nationwide for asthma rates because of air pollution, particularly diesel fumes.  The housing and shopping complex proposed by the UC is projected to bring in 6,500 more cars per day, and a fleet of diesel trucks shipping in goods from all over the world.  Our farm is not only a place to grow free organic produce, it is also one of the community’s most important carbon sinks.

HOW TO HELP

1.  Join us in action to take a stand for public land and public health.

WHEN: Thursday, July 16th | 4pm for rally | 5pm sharp for ACTION

WHERE: Corner of Monroe & San Pablo, Albany (the planned construction site)

Love the Land_ Take a Stand! flyer_smaller

2.  Spread the word

Forward this email and invite others on OTF 7/16 action.

Invite folks to OTF film, now available online.

Fill out this OTF support survey, plug into the action and other support from wherever you are!  (We are especially in need of videographers.)

Donate online to OTF!!!  We can only do this with your support.

6/1 Colorful & Fruity Action Debrief

Warm greetings farmrades,

Last Saturday, in the latest escalation against Sprouts “Farmers” Market, OTF activists sprung direct actions on two more stores, likely leaving the management dazed. (Oh, and remember the awkward-looking grape costume slash jubilant bulldozer duo from the last action? Don’t get too excited, but they were there too.) Read on to see how it went!

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 *** REPORT BACK ***

Action Debrief: Whack-A-Mole, “Sprouts v. Occupy the Farm” Style? You Decide

Guerrilla theatre: someone has to do it!


Last Saturday, May 30th, 2015, farmers and neighbors of the historic Gill Tract turned out to creatively disrupt business-as-usual at two Sprouts supermarkets. Their message to this corporate supermarket chain? “Don’t build a Sprouts ‘Farmer’s Market’ on our historic Gill Tract Farmland!”

Protesters descended on the Fremont Sprouts store at around 2:30 pm. After entering the store as undercover shoppers, they began chanting loudly in unison, triggering the management to call the police. In a one-two punch, which from the perspective of Sprouts management teams might be seen as a game of whack-a-mole, the protesters then trotted off (or burrowed?) to Mountain View Sprouts to up the ante with a rally, where their ranks grew.

In addition to this sonic disruption, amplified by the Brass Liberation Orchestra, protesters distributed leaflets throughout the stores, engaging shoppers and workers in dialogue about the struggle to save the Gill Tract (public farmland) from corporate annihilation. Fortunately, no arrests were made at these actions.

For more footage from this action, including a video clip of Some Dancing Broccoli Dude (yes, really), click here to visit the Facebook page… But not before making a contribution to our social media efforts! Social media is crucial to advancing this land defense struggle, and every little bit helps.

Click here to plug in:
http://www.boycottsprouts.com/#!about3/c1m4v

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*** WANT TO GET INVOLVED? ***

Tell us what you’re into.  From web design, to farming, to social media and outreach, we need all hands on deck.  This quick survey will help us connect you to actions, no matter where in the world you are.

*** PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK! Donate online. ***

5/30 Action Alert: Mobilization Against Sprouts this Weekend, and More

Salutations farmrades,

With summer less than a month away, we continue to turn up the heat on Sprouts Farmerless Market. We need all hands on deck for the next action this Saturday, May 30th (see below for more information).

In other news, last week was action-packed! On Thursday, Occupy the Farm activists and community members advocated in defense of the Gill Tract at the UC Regents meeting, and then joined hundreds for the March Against Monsanto over the weekend. Updates on that and more below.
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*** Action Alert: Turn Up this Weekend ***
Saturday, May 30th at 12:00 Noon.
Peet’s Coffee
5095 Telegraph Ave.
North Oakland

Join us this Saturday, May 30th for another Boycott Sprouts campaign action! Let’s make sure they get the message that we don’t want them building a big box Supermarket on OUR public farmland in Albany, CA.

Meet up to coordinate rides and logistics at 12 Noon at Peet’s Coffee in North Oakland (5095 Telegraph Ave). Please be on time. There will be rides for those who need them!

RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/680604638712057/

                                   …NOT “just because.”

                                                   

*** REPORT BACKS! ***

“Produce, Not Privatization!” UC Regent’s Meeting & TV Report

Disguised as UC President Janet Napolitano, community members voice their support for locally-controlled food instead of privatization.

On May 21st, students and community members gathered to make public comments at the Regent’s meeting, sparking interest from the national Spanish-language network, Telemundo, which did a follow up piece at the farm following the Regents meeting:

http://www.telemundoareadelabahia.com/noticias/lucha-presrevar-granja-organica-UC-Gill-Tract-Community-Farm-albany-california-304921971.html#Here are the comments that sparked the piece.  Our folks speak from minutes 16:30-21:25:http://lecture.ucsf.edu/ets/Play/5d19a962e0be482aadf3737f3219346d1d?catalog=333992fe-1405-4d6b-ae39-512a30188f34We have yet to receive any official response from the Regents, but were encouraged by emails of support and further enquiry from Student Regent, Sadia Saifuddin. Onward!

Marching Against Monsanto: For a Clean, Fair and Just Food System!

In Oakland last Saturday, OTF joined forces with hundreds in the annual global day of protest against Monsanto. At the action, our #BoycottSprouts social media campaign channelled the voices of even more community members in opposition to Sprouts’s incursion.

Even kids don’t want Sprouts on the  Gill Tract. Yes, really.

Your contribution to our social media efforts advances this land defense struggle, and every little bit helps!

Click here to plug in:

http://www.boycottsprouts.com/#!about3/c1m4v

 *** WANT TO GET INVOLVED? ***

Tell us what you’re into.  From web design, to farming, to social media and outreach, we need all hands on deck.  This quick survey will help us connect you to actions, no matter where in the world you are.

*** PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK! Donate online. ***