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UC Dean Announces Plans Tied to Gill Tract for Program to Support Urban Farming

UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless told the City Council on Tuesday night about his efforts to develop an urban agriculture program and center with roots at the Gill Tract.

[Editor's Note: The headline of this story was updated shortly after publication to clarify statements made by the dean Tuesday night.]

The University of California dean who oversees the Gill Tract announced plans Tuesday night to create a center for food systems, urban agriculture and food policy that would be connected to the research field for at least the next decade.

Keith Gilless, who runs UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources, gave the City Council, route: {:controller=>"local_facts", :action=>"show", :id=>"albany-city-council"} --> and members of the public an update at and to force the university to let the city have a say in the Gill Tract's future. Fields said he was also disappointed when plans by the city to

Michael Barnes September 20, 2012 at 04:47 AM
I'll do some math here, just to provide some perspective, and make no other comments: In surveyor's terms, a section is one square mile. There are 640 acres to a section. Therefore, one acre is (5280 x 5280)/640=43,560 sq. ft. By taking the square root of that number, we can determine that one acre, if a square plot of land, is about 209 x 209 feet. Multiply that by 7 to determine that 7 acres is a plot of land 209 x 1461 feet. That's a lot of vegetables. For comparison, note that the maximum size of the Whole foods market is 55,000 sq. ft. and that includes storerooms and other work area. 55,000 square feet is 55,000/43,560 = 1.27 acres. Finally, by dividing 7 acres by 1.27, we arrive at the result that 7 acres is more than 5.5 times as big as the square footage of the proposed Whole Foods market. One more comparison. I have two raised beds in my back yard. If fully planted, they keep me busy. Each is 4' x 12', for 48 sq. ft. Let's say if I was retired, and devoted most of my time to gardening, I could take care of 10 such beds, a total of 480 sq. ft. Note that 7 acres is 43,560 x 7 = 304,920 sq. ft. Divide that number by 480 to arrive at the result that if one person can handle 480 sq. ft. of garden, then 7 acres requires about 635 people. Or a lot of mechanization. I'll leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions.
Damon Lisch September 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Yup. That's about what I expected.
tr September 20, 2012 at 05:52 PM
mr. barnes, why are you using the size of whole foods for comparison when it is less than half of the project? do you know the size of the entire proposed uc development including the other retail spaces and assisted senior living? if you were on the council now, would you support rescinding the development agreement or holding a special election? would you have voted to certify the eir? any comment on little league fields and the agriculture land being guaranteed for only 10 years?
Tatter Salad September 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Asa, I'm saddened to hear the 'diseased trees,' mostly pear I believe, were removed. The U.C. Ag department, along with the Entomology Department have been using those trees for years to further our knowledge of natural pest control. If you've got a better idea, or location in Berkeley/Albany for such work, please publish it. If you REALLY want to create a community garden, then I will supply a rototiller for you to get started at the failed 'Owl Habitat Restoration' project, which is just a half mile away from the Gill Tract.
Asa Dodsworth September 21, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Dear Tater Salad, The trees I'm speaking of are not the pear tree's on Buchanan (1/8th an acre) but the Monterrey Pine Trees on the San Pablo side of the Tract (3 - 4acres). The Pines were removed two years ago in October 2010. http://www.cp.berkeley.edu/CP/Projects/GillTract/HazardousTreeRmvl.html

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