Farm activists say they will break up the camp when Cal “presents a concrete proposal” that satisfies their concerns. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Farm activists say they will break up the camp when Cal “presents a concrete proposal” that satisfies their concerns. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The Occupy the Farm group that is currently occupying the UC Berkeley-owned Gill Tract in Albany with a view to persuading the university to give it over to urban farming, issued the following statement Monday evening on its website (use of bold is as in original) :

The Gill Tract Farmers Collective would like to issue the following statements to the press and the public:

1) Regarding media reports about dialogue between the Gill Tract Farmers Collective and the University of California:

We dispute the veracity of media reports that we failed to respond to the UC’s request for dialogue on Saturday. Dan Siegel, legal counsel for Occupy the Farm, says, “The University’s statement that we failed to contact them on Saturday is incorrect.”

In a message to University counsel Chris Patti on Saturday, Siegel wrote, “We were concerned about the potential for a police attack tonight. The farmers are committed to constructive dialogue to resolve the issues raised in our meeting on Thursday. A police action would create serious problems for us and for UC, especially in light of the university’s recently announced plan to adopt less violent police tactics. As you know, our process requires careful consultation with a large number of people. Nonetheless, we will provide you with a comprehensive proposal to resolve UC’s concerns on Monday.”

2) Regarding the resolution of the current conflict over access to and use of the Gill Tract:

The Gill Tract Farmers Collective looks forward to addressing our mutual concerns around the unimpeded work of the Gill Tract researchers. We understand that the nature of genetic research necessitates extra precautions for the security of those experiments.

When the University presents a concrete proposal that satisfies the following concerns, we will break up the camp so that the researchers have access to their plots. The concerns are:

1. That municipal water at the Gill Tract be made available to us.

2. That the Farmer’s Collective and larger community have access to the field in order that we may:

a. Tend to the crops we have planted on the East side of the field.

b. Maintain the Children’s garden in the northwest corner of the tract, as well as the BASIL seed bank homecoming site on the edge of the west field.

3. That in order to protect the organic food crops, the long-term health of the soil, the beehive, as well as the neighbors, including children and families, the researchers/the University refrain from the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizer or plastic tarp in the soil on the farm.

We continue to be willing to facilitate this transition process for the researchers, and to work jointly toward such tasks as the construction of new fences or gates that would allow for our access to the locations referenced in Condition 2, so long as these conditions are met.

We look forward to further discussion around how to make this a truly collaborative process for all stakeholders in the Gill Tract. This includes not only the Albany community, the Gill Tract Farmer’s Collective, and UC Berkeley, but also the residents of the greater East Bay. Because of its unique location in a thriving urban area, any future use of the Gill Tract has an immediate impact on East Bay food sovereignty, equity, and access issues. We hope that more consideration for the time that is necessary to facilitate an open community dialogue is respected and that the UC ceases to levy ultimatums such as the one issued on Friday, May 4th.

3) Regarding our vision: Our original vision in occupying this parcel of land, the last and best soil in the urban East Bay, was to preserve the entirety of the Gill Tract as agricultural land not only for a single growing season, but in perpetuity. This vision persists. Farmland is for farming.

UC Berkeley sets midnight deadline for Occupy the Farm [05.05.12]
Could UC and Occupy the Farm compromise on Gill Tract? [05.04.12]
UC Berkeley to Occupy the Farm: “Time is running out.” [05.03.12]
Occupy the Farm activists issue open letter to community [04.30.12]
UC Berkeley issues open letter to “clear confusion” on Gill Tract [04.27.12]
UC Berkeley calls for peaceful end to Occupy the Farm [04.23.12]

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...