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Occupy the Farm Asks for Monday Meeting

Students say university plans to develop Gill Tract.

A Saturday deadline for protestors to agree to leave a tract of UC Berkeley-owned land voluntarily has passed without a response and university officials now say they are weighing their options.

University officials issued a letter on Friday giving Occupy the Farm protestors until Saturday night to agree to leave the 10-acre Albany property known as the Gill Tract voluntarily. In return, the university offered to conduct a public dialogue on continuing "urban farming" on the land, which is currently used for agricultural research, according to a statement issued by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancelor John Wilton.

The offer was first made at a meeting between university and Occupy the Farm representatives in a face-to-face meeting on Thursday, but the protestors said they could not agree to the offer without discussing it with other group members and reaching consensus, the statement said.

As of Sunday, university officials said they were still waiting for a response. Because student and faculty researchers need to regain access to the property by mid-May in order to conduct their work, if protestors do not agree to leave the university will take action "to ensure the research activities are not impeded and the rule of law is maintained," the statement said.

"We did not get a response as we hoped and expected last night, so we're disappointed," university spokesman Dan Mogulof said Sunday. "At this point we'll need to evaluate other options to ensure that research can go forward."

Occupy the Farm took over the Gill Tract, which is located at Marin and San Pablo avenues, on April 22, Earth Day, and has planted crops on the site.

Group members have alleged the university plans to develop the property and say they hope to see it preserved for community agriculture. University officials have said there are no plans to develop the Gill Tract, and that the retail development group members have mentioned is on a different property that has not been farmed since World War II.

Occupy the Farm group member Gopal Dayaneni said early Sunday morning that the group had contacted the university through its attorney saying it wanted to meet again Monday to have further conversations.

"We don't want a raid, we don't want police action," Dayaneni said. "It's not an appropriate way to resolve the situation.

"It won't end well for them regardless," Dayaneni added. "We're very committed to seeing the vision of the farm preserved and we have an enormous amount of community support, both in the immediate communities and in the wider area."

-- Bay City News Service

Kayko May 07, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Head on over to the reports at Albany Patch and you will see that saying they have "an enormous amount of community support" is an overstatement.
Milan Moravec May 07, 2012 at 11:40 PM
UC Berkeley Provost Breslauer uses campus police to have his way. With the recommendations of Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000 salary), Provost George Breslauer ($306,000 salary) allowed campus police to use excessive force - rammed baton jabs - on students protesting Birgeneau‘s doubling of instate tuition. Birgeneau resigned: sack Provost Breslauer. Send a forceful message that these Cal. senior management decisions simply aren’t acceptable: UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu and Calif. State Senator and Assemblymember.
Dn May 08, 2012 at 01:02 AM
if someone made crops and camped on my front lawn, I would be warn them to leave and if they didn't, I would call the police have them arrested immediately for trespassing. Think about it... If you are into having someone do that to your lawn, then maybe you can offer your front lawn to these folks and have them turn it in farmland, with a % of crop proceeds going to you. UC is really being beyond kind. Not only have they left these folks alone for two weeks, they are going to let them in on negotiations on the tract that Albany citizens, development interests (Whole foods, etc) and Softball (sports) have been discussing for years... ? I don't get it. I follow rules, I follow procedure, and I have respect for private property. Why are we conforming and accepting of those who are disruptive and again... on private property which was being used for agricultural research...
Arwen May 08, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Gill Tract demands in Daily Cal: ":The Gill Tract Farmers Collective looks forward to addressing our mutual concerns around the unimpeded work of the Gill Tract researchers. We understand that the nature of genetic research necessitates extra precautions for the security of those experiments. When the University presents a concrete proposal that satisfies the following concerns, we will break up the camp so that the researchers have access to their plots. The concerns are: 1. That municipal water at the Gill Tract be made available to us. 2. That the Farmer’s Collective and larger community have access to the field in order that we may: a. Tend to the crops we have planted on the East side of the field. b. Maintain the Children’s garden in the northwest corner of the tract, as well as the BASIL seed bank homecoming site on the edge of the west field. 3. That in order to protect the organic food crops, the long-term health of the soil, the beehive, as well as the neighbors, including children and families, the researchers/the University refrain from the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizer or plastic tarp in the soil on the farm...". http://www.dailycal.org/2012/05/07/farm-protesters-decide-to-stay-solidify-conditions-for-disbanding-encampment/

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