In what seems to be the first action of the Occupy movement in the Bay Area this Spring, activists on the Albany and Berkeley border took to their shovels and hoes to claim a piece of agricultural property and build a community farm. This story looks at the day's happenings through a narrated slideshow that includes interviews of the organizers and urban farmers. Berkeleyside has also covered more recent developments of the story.
Occupy the Farm, a coalition of local residents, farmers, students, researchers, and activists brought 15,000 seedlings to plant at the Gill Tract, the last remaining 10 acres of Class I agricultural soil in the urbanized East Bay area. The Gill Tract is public land administered by the University of California, which plans to sell it to private developers.
Anya Kamenskaya, a UC Berkeley alum and one of the organizers explains:
“We are occupying it, we are reclaiming it, we are planting it because it is under the threat of development. UC Berkeley which is a public institution which administers this public piece this land has plans with the city government of Albany and they are planning to rezone this entire space for commercial development in perpetuity to build Whole Foods, other retail space, and to pave over a good section of this land.”
Krystof, another organizer, mentions that:
“This here is the perfect opportunity to teach people how to produce their own food, to show people that it’s possible to produce your own food, to show people that it is possible to produce food in an urban environment and we really think that it would be criminal not to use this land for that.”
Local writer Jeff Conant who is editor of Climate Connections interviewed some of the organizers and activists during the evening. Here’s an audio slideshow of the interviews.