Monday, April 23, 2012

US: 'Whole Food, Not Whole Foods': Renegade Farmers Reclaim Land on Earth Day

An Occupy the Farm protester rototills
a patch of land owned by UC Berkeley
at Buchanan and Jackson streets in Albany.
(Kevin Johnson / The Chronicle)
'Whole Food, Not Whole Foods': Renegade Farmers Reclaim Land on Earth Day -

To prevent the sale for private development, citizens plant community garden

Bay area residents on Sunday, in order to prevent development of a chain grocery store, reclaimed 10 acres of land owned by the University of California-Berkeley and planted a community garden.

The protesters-cum-gardeners, several dozen of them in all, broke the lock on a chain-linked fence about mid-day and got to work digging beds, roto-tilling soil, and planting carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables. The plan is to build a sustainable community garden and stave off any attempt by UC Berkeley to sell the land for private development. Gopal Dayaneni, one of the 20 or so core organizers of the action, told the San Jose Mercury News that the group was committed to growing both the farm and its community of farmers. Volunteers had about 10,000 starts -- small bulbs or seedlings -- and dug dozens of rows. Some people brought chickens, and the group even brought in a large tank for watering.

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"This is the last, best agricultural soil in the East Bay, and we want it to be preserved for community farming and sustainable urban agriculture, not chopped up and sold off in pieces by the university," said Dayaneni, a 43-year-old Oakland resident and father of two who said he's long been active in environmental and ecological issues in the East Bay.

Police were on the scene throughout the day, but no arrests were reported. The 'renegade farmers' were pitching tents at the end of the day, but said they had no plans to permanently occupy the land.  "Our goal is not to live here, our goal is to create a working urban agro-ecological farm," Anya Kamenskaya, a spokesperson for the group, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
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