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Gill Tract Activists Hand Out Produce in Albany, West Oakland

Occupy the Farm members say they’ll be back for more harvesting and hope to plant a winter garden. Click the "Keep me posted" button for updates on this topic.

Vegetables by Occupy the Farm activists on Sunday were given out at two locations: Albany and the West Oakland BART station.

On Sunday, activists cut the lock at the for the third time this summer, for several hours of weeding, watering and harvesting of the crops . Sunday’s picking yielded about a dozen boxes of mostly squash and cucumbers, along with chard, beets and tomatoes.

In Albany, the group gave out the veggies, along with their flier and recipes, at the corner of Marin and San Pablo avenues, approaching motorists at the stoplight, said Navid Shaghaghi, a group member. He said about 40 people—pedestrians and motorists—took the produce, and everything was given away.  Some people didn’t want anything or wouldn’t roll down their windows, he said.  But, he said, “The pedestrians liked it a lot. One of the neighbors gave us some extra bags. It was a good atmosphere.”

The other half of the day’s harvest was taken to the entrance of the West Oakland BART station, in a neighborhood Shaghaghi described as a “food desert” for its lack of grocery stores.

“People were very receptive and interested,” said Krystof Lopaur, who was with that group. (Lopauer has identified himself in the past as .) 

Shaghaghi said the idea behind the two locations was to split the distribution between a very local site and a site where people are needy. He said that, after the group’s , activists knocked on doors in UC Village, offering produce to the residents. They also took produce to West Oakland BART that time.

In addition, members of the East Bay Food Not Bombs group took a small amount of Sunday’s produce to use. Food Not Bombs cooks meals for the needy; they serve weekdays at Berkeley’s People’s Park and on Sundays in downtown Oakland.

The activists said they were not familiar with either the or the Berkeley Food Pantry on Sacramento Street. 

Group members said they plan to return to the Gill Tract over the next few months to harvest. Tomatoes are next, pumpkins will ripen in the fall. They did not provide a date for their next harvest.

Winter farming?

Group members said they would like to keep using the Gill Tract after this growing season is over.  

“Hopefully we’ll be replacing all that (the current crops) with winter crops at some point,” said Lopaur.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said he had not heard about future plans for planting.

Mogulof also said that, during the three harvests this summer, there were no incidents, no arrests and, “most importantly,” no damage to the . Researchers Damon Lisch and Sarah Hake of the USDA have said are doing well.

No collaboration with UC

Asked if the university and activists had met to discuss urban farming at the Gill Tract, Lopaur said not as far as he knew, adding, “We don’t think they appreciate our position.”

On that topic Mogulof said, “From the very beginning they (the activists) rejected , in favor of their own unilateral actions. They’ve remained consistently obstinate.”

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future stories on this topic. Read more on Albany Patch about the Gill Tract

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.

Eric Bordax August 10, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Wish they could've handed me some vegetables so I could immediately throw them on the ground.
Winifred Owen August 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Trespassers: Go away. Now. Forever. Thank you.
AnonRes August 10, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Just a question.... are the occupy the farm people the ones who have been going door to door for residents to sign up for organic vegetables to be bought at half price? Some woman with a clipboard came by a few days ago saying she was selling organic produce at half the cost of a store or farmer's market. When I told her I was not interested because I have my own organic garden out back she became a bit rude and kept saying that the vegetables are 100% organic I responded with so are ours and politely said goodbye and closed my door. Anyone else get this at their door?
Mary Flaherty August 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I doubt it; they don't appear to be trying to sell their produce. I'll check in with them.
Peggy McQuaid August 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
You should always ask to see the sellers permit from the City of Albany when someone comes to the door selling something. There is a specific one for produce.
KSC August 10, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Can someone please explain how these guys have cut the lock to the Gill Tract three times already and have said that they're planning on planting again this winter, and they haven't been arrested yet? This is trespassing, plain and simple. By their logic, would it be okay for me to cut the lock to a gate at a local school to enter the children's garden and plant whatever I want there?
Michael Barnes August 10, 2012 at 08:05 PM
KSC, Logic? They don' need no stinkin' logic. When you are young, naive and arrogant you know when you are right--laws and the preferences of the locals be damned. I think UC has switched strategies here. It's like dealing with ants. You know, like when you come home from vacation and your messy honey squeeze bottle is crawling with ants. There are two different strategies you can adopt. Strategy #1 is to try to eradicate all the ants (I prefer spray bleach for this approach). Strategy #2 is remove whatever is attracting them and ignore the ants, knowing that eventually they will get bored and drift away. Now that UC has cleared the encampment off the Gill Tract, and there is no danger of it becoming People's Park West (thank God), UC has switched to strategy #2. To further this new policy, our hipster gardener friends need to find something new to fulfill their lives. I suggest either a multi-year spiritual quest to Tibet, or starting an intentional living community on vacant land north of Hilo on the island of Hawaii. Plenty of sunshine and rain there. But the volcanic soil will require years of work. I just saw today that one of the OTF spokespeople, Effie Rawlings, is running for the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. That should keep her busy. But I am not sure why low-income renters would be interested in voting for someone who cuts locks, occupies other people's property and trashes it. Low-income renters already have to put up with that.
Peggy McQuaid August 10, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I am perplexed why folks would take food from someone who walked up to their car while stopped at a light. Didn't they get the lesson regarding taking candy from strangers?
Jane Timberlake August 10, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Michael, you wrote earlier about the Ruckus Society and its tactics, so admirably illustrated by OTF. Would you post that again? OTF is easier to understand in the light of its true objectives and tactics. They're the Karl Rove & company of the far left.
Albany Chamber of Commerce August 11, 2012 at 01:36 AM
It's too bad the activists didn't look across the street from West Oakland BART and see the Mandela Foods Cooperative, and locally-owned grocery store and nutrition center. Mandela Foods is the result of several years of dedicated work by West Oakland citizens. www.mandelafoods.com.
Marsha Skinner August 11, 2012 at 02:11 AM
UC_ Please bill the named individuals for the cost of replacing the lock
Michael Barnes August 11, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Jane, That wasn't me, I think it was Tatter Salad, but I am not sure.
Mary Flaherty August 11, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Lisa D., Navid Shaghaghi of Occupy the Farm responded to your question: "That has nothing to do with us. We don't sell the produce from the tract (or anything else for that matter) and hand them out for free."
Damon Lisch August 11, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Although I am not at all pleased that the Occupiers continue to break into our field, I do appreciate the fact that they have not hurt our corn. However, I would note that on at least one occasion, undergraduate researchers and High School interns have been verbally harassed by misguided members of the public ("Your not REAL farmers! You're f-ing Scientists!"). Unfortunately, I've had to tell my students to avoid any contact with the public, so please don't be offended if they don't respond to your questions. I know these people are probably not directly associated with OTF, but I would urge members of OTF to emphasize to their supporters that the young people working in our field are just students trying to learn about basic research. Many of them may end up wanting to be scientists, although I'm not sure this experience will help nudge them in that direction. I'm sure we can all agree that harassing our students is both wrong and counterproductive.
doris August 11, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Don't worry about it, KSC, the cost for the locks and the police will simply be passed on as higher tuition costs, maybe more taxes? Heck, what's wrong with that? So long as the "farmers" get to indulge their passions.
Jane Timberlake August 11, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Alas, Ruckus Society philosophy would claim this development as highly desirable (increase disaffection with institutional anything, like universities and actual scientific pursuits, never mind police, etc.).
Amy Smolens August 12, 2012 at 05:21 AM
I've been working out of town for the last few weeks so have been pretty out of touch. I decided to check in with Patch tonight to see what's going on in Albany. More trespassing and harassment - wow. The Mandela Food Cooperative mentioned above seems like a model that might be a better way to go. P.S.: What's wrong with scientists?
Robin Onaka August 16, 2012 at 06:44 PM
A friend forwarded me the notice below today. He said he was sending it to me because I live in Albany and he wanted to know what was going on. It looks like a blast email from Occupy the Farm. Has anyone heard about this event? It's supposed to take place this coming Sunday (August 18) "‎*ACTION ALERT!* *When: Sunday, 11am-3pm Where: Jackson Street entrance to the Gill Tract (west side of the farm)* Please join us and *forward* this invitation widely - it is an open, public callout! We will be gathering on *Sunday, 11am-3pm* for harvesting, watering and weeding. We will also be creating space for breakout groups do work on the other tentacles of our giant squid of resistance (Whole Foods...actions, student mobilization, Albany ally support, Fall actions, Occupied Library Gardens If you are interested in any or all of these, please come down to the Farm. Also, if you have any *boxes* that we can use for produce, please bring them." If this is true, I hope the harvest will be a peaceful one.
Damon Lisch August 16, 2012 at 08:14 PM
@Robin. Great. That's just great. Since I have to be in the field all day every day now to cross my corn, I can't avoid them this time.
Albany Great-Grandmother September 28, 2012 at 07:05 AM
Wow, I guess corporations really are people, since an organization as large as the Chamber of Commerce can express itself with one voice.
Peggy McQuaid November 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I couldn't figure out where else to post this information seen on Berkeleyside (thanks Emilie) last night. http://www.berkeleyside.com/2012/11/16/cal-removes-latest-occupy-the-farm-greens-at-gill-tract/

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