Food Writers Issue Statement of Support After Gill Tract Arrests

Photo: Dave Id

The Gill Tract, a 10-acre plot of Class-1 agricultural land located in the City of Albany and owned by UC Berkeley, was occupied by dozens of food security activists on Earth Day (April 22) who immediately went to work to transform the uncultivated plot into an organic food-producing urban farm. After negotiations between Occupy The Farm and UC Berkeley over the shared use of the land failed, UC Berkeley filed charges against several occupying farmers and authorized the removal by force of all the activists in a pre-dawn raid on Monday.

More than 30 of America’s leading food writers and activists – including luminaries Bill McKibben and Frances Moore Lappé – have released the following statement in support of Occupy the Farm at the Gill Tract in Albany, California.

As dedicated food writers, authors, activists, and academics, we wish to convey our strong dismay with UC Berkeley’s actions to oust Occupy the Farm at the Gill Tract–and we urge the administration to embrace the community farm that has been created there instead of policing it.

This is public land being stewarded by a land-grant institution. We urge the administration and campus police to drop all charges against the farmers and protesters, and to engage in good-faith negotiations to ensure that the Gill Tract is reserved for community-based agricultural use to be governed as a form of commons in conjunction with the farmers and local community.

The Gill Tract farmers are rooted in the Albany community, and supported by hard-working volunteers. Their vision of using the space to teach children agro-ecology, feed those in need in the community and train future farmers in organic farming is an admirable use of the land and can be realized without affecting the UC negatively. In fact, UC should welcome this stewardship as an instance of community-based education and sustainable land use.

Christopher Cook, Author of Diet for a Dead Planet

Bill McKibben, Author of Eaarth

Frances Moore Lappé, Author of Diet for a Small Planet

Raj Patel, Author of Stuffed and Starved

Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agroecology, UC Berkeley

Y. Armando Nieto, Executive Director, California Food and Justice Coalition

Anna Lappé, Author of Diet for a Hot Planet

Michele Simon, President of Eat Drink Politics, Author of Appetite for Profit

David Bacon, Author of Illegal People

Organic Consumers Association

Eric Holt-Gimenez, Executive Director of Food First, Author of Food Rebellions, Crisis and the Hunger for Justice
Gail Wadsworth, Executive Director of California Institute for Rural Studies

Dave Murphy, Founder / Executive Director, Food Democracy Now!

Pesticide Watch Education Fund

Mark Winne, Author of Closing the Food Gap

Jim & Megan Gerritsen, Owners, Wood Prairie Farm, Bridgewater, Maine

Tom Philpott, Mother Jones writer and Maverick Farms co-founder

Jan Poppendieck, Author of Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

Jason Mark, Co-manager, Alemany Farm and co-author of Building the Green Economy

The Cornucopia Institute, Cornucopia, Wisconsin

Lisa Stokke, Associate Director, Food Democracy Now!

Peter Rosset, Researcher, Center for the Study of Rural Change in Mexico (CECCAM)

Chef Jenny Huston, Founder & Executive Chef at Farm to Table Food Services

Ashley Schaeffer, Rainforest Action Network

Marilyn Borchardt, Food First, Oakland, CA

Judy Wicks, Founder, White Dog Cafe, Philadelphia

Jeff Conant, Author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health

Global Justice Ecology Project, Vermont

Melinda Hemmelgarn, Freelance writer and Food Sleuth Radio host

Tanya Kerssen, Writer and activist

Erin Middleton, California Food and Justice Coalition

Deetje Boler, Every Voice producer

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