Activists took over UC Berkeley owned land at Gill Tract in Albany on April 22. Photo: Tracey Taylor

UC Berkeley has released an open letter to update the community on the state of play at Gill Tract, which, until May 14, was being occupied by a group of farm activists known as the Gill Tract Farmers Collective. The letter says that preparations for agricultural research are now under way at the university-owned site, which is just over the Berkeley border in Albany on San Pablo Avenue, and sets out to dispel what it calls several “myths and misunderstandings” that have appeared in the media, in blogs and in online forums.

Meanwhile, Occupy the Farm is organizing a Planter Box Rally at Gill Tract on Saturday May 19, followed by a Community Forum on Visions for Food Sovereignty and Food Justice. It is also collecting signatures on a petition that aims to “tell the university that farm land is for farming.”

An Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday this week against defendants named in a lawsuit brought by UC Berkeley against several farm protesters.

The university states that, contrary to some reports, none of the research work at the Gill Tract involves genetically modified crops or organisms and nor is any of it is being funded by corporate sponsors; the Gill Tract was not donated to the campus, it was purchased for $400,000 in the 1920s; and that even though Cal is a public university, this does not mean that university property is freely open to all members of the public to use as they like.

Read the full open letter from UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley regains control of Gill Tract [05.14.12]

Police raid, clear out Occupy the Farm, handful of arrests [05.14.12]
UC Berkeley speaks of impasse, seals off Occupy Farm [05.10.12]
Activists: Farming and research can coexist, no need for police [05.10.12]
UC Berkeley files lawsuit against Occupy the Farm activists [05.09.12]
Could UC and Occupy the Farm compromise on Gill Tract? [05.04.12]
UC Berkeley calls for peaceful end to Occupy the Farm [04.23.12]

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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...