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Albany, UC Berkeley Responds to "Occupy the Farm" Movement

A University of California, Berkeley, official said the university will reach out to Occupy participants with the goal of ending the action peacefully. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for updates on this story.

[This story was updated at 2 p.m.]

Officials from the University of California at Berkeley said they will work to find a peaceful resolution with activists who  to plant an urban farm.  

The city of Albany also released a statement, at 1:30 p.m.: "The City of Albany is aware of the situation on the University of California property in Albany known as the Gill Tract. City officials are keeping open the lines of communication with University representatives as UC handles its response. The City asks for a peaceful resolution as detailed in the statement made by the University dated April 23, 2012." 

Anya Kamenskaya, who is involved with the Take Back the Tract activity, said Monday morning that the group has already planted more than one acre of the 15-acre site. 

Dan Mogulof, executive director of the university's Office of Public Relations shared this statement, which has been modified slightly. (We also added links to Albany Patch coverage of related to the story.):

The parcel of land currently occupied by the protesters is not slated for commercial development. Rather, the 15-acre Gill Tract is currently being used for that will be impeded if the occupation continues.

In addition, one of our faculty members grows produce on the same land that is distributed to the needy. That too will be threatened if the occupation persists or a failure to maintain sanitary conditions contaminates the soil.  

We intend to reach out to those involved, convey the actual facts and discuss next steps. 

There is for another portion of the land in the general area. That project from the Albany City Council and planning commission.

The 2004 master plan for the entire area is available here.

The protesters are in violation of campus policy and state law. If the occupation continues, those policies and laws will be enforced when we determine it can be done safely and effectively. We do not want anything to impede the research.

Mogulof said his main concern, from a public health perspective, is that the Occupy site at the Gill Tract includes open latrines, which could pose a problem for crops grown on the land. 

[Editor's Note: UPDATED April 27: The activists said they never had open latrines at the site; they initially were using compost toilets, and switched to Porta Potties several days later.]

He said UC researchers usually plant their crops at the end of the rainy season. Planting is slated to take place in the next few weeks. 

He later added, via email, that "we intend to continue using the tract for ag research as there are no immediate plans to move ahead with a transition to open field or recreational use."

Mogulof noted that the last two occupations on the UC Berkeley campus ended "completely peacefully," and that the university has "every intention" of finding a peaceful solution to the Gill Tract activities

Do you have questions for the university? Share them in the comments below.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future stories on this topic. Read more here. Learn about the proposed .

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

KJ April 25, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Eric, I have not seen port-a-potties on the site, so where exactly is the human waste of the encampment going if not into the ground or creek?
ernie April 25, 2012 at 01:59 PM
People have been using the gas station toilets or other public facillities. People come and go and they are absolutely craping elsewhere. No one is shitting in the field or worse the creek, and to assume so is indicative of elitist ignorance. Get off your high horse. You're not special, just privileged.
Emilie Raguso April 28, 2012 at 08:39 AM
I added this on Friday into the text above following UC's statement indicating sanitation concerns about the Gill Tract -- [Editor's Note: UPDATED April 27: The activists said they never had open latrines at the site; they initially were using compost toilets, and switched to Porta Potties several days later.]
Jennifer Carlson April 28, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I don't know how I feel about the "OtF" action, but I do know that a fundraiser for our not-particularly-wealthy school had to be cancelled (possibly related to that action) and that, for the first time in the years I've been "Occupy-ing" my humble home in Albany, I saw a man soliciting "donations" on the corner of Jackson and Buchanan, in front the school. If the goal is to start a revolution, might we respect the current residents of the area that are not quite as radically inclined?
KJ May 03, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I am so encouraged to go down to the Gill Tract and meet you and your friends, ernie. You're so respectful. It's you who need to get off your high horse - you know nothing about me.

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