Albany encampment could be forced out by lack of resources

Occupy Cal and community members continue planting and tending to the farm they started on UC property.
Gracie Malley/Staff
Occupy Cal and community members continue planting and tending to the farm they started on UC property.

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ALBANY, Calif. — Though UCPD had not yet interfered with the encampment on UC-owned farmland in Albany as of Tuesday evening, the protesters may be forced away from their occupation by dwindling resources.

While some of the occupiers — who broke into the property, farmed it and established a camp Sunday — are there because they wanted to create a sustainable urban farm, others are protesting a proposed Whole Foods Market that could be built on a portion of the land south of the encampment.

While UCPD officers warned protesters on Sunday that they could face citation and arrest, there have not been any confrontations or arrests so far. Instead, campus administration has begun negotiating with the protesters, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“If you own something and I think I can put what you own to better use, that doesn’t give me a right to take what you own,” Mogulof said. “(But) our focus is on finding a way to bring this to a resolution in a way that allows the research to proceed without any violence or conflict.”

The university shut off the land’s irrigation system on Tuesday, and while local vendors and farms across the coast have shown support by donating food and water to the encampment, supplies are becoming more scarce, according to Anya Kamenskaya, an alumna of the campus College of Natural Resources.

Still, she emphasized that protesters will continue to weed and farm the settlement. As part of their goal of educating the local community about bioethics and food politics, they will also provide workshops to develop eco-agricultural skills for those who are interested as long as possible, she said.

Kamenskaya said the protesters are both “hopeful and realistic” about the possibility of the university granting the demonstrators’ request that the plot of land be used for pesticide-free, sustainable farming for the community.

But current campus agricultural research on the land requires that seeds be planted in the next few weeks, which could prove a difficult issue in the near future if the protesters remain.

“These folks may have a different vision for how the property should be utilized,” Mogulof said. “But the rights of the people who own the land and the rights of those who use the land — the researchers — are surely as valid as anyone else’s.”

Miguel Altieri, a campus professor of environmental science, policy and management, is conducting field research about developing sustainable farming in the plot and currently has broccoli planted there, according to his website.

Protesters cordoned off Altieri’s research, which Kamenskaya said aligns with the principles of the encampment. She said Altieri is expected to show up at the encampment Thursday.

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  • Sam

    These people are so clueless, blind to the fact that the majority of the REALL 99% absolutely loathes them. 

  • Amit Gupta

    Sustainable, really?

    The Gill Tract is a 10-acre plot of land.  10 acres is about 4.05 hectares, and according to this page (, if the farming is done just right and a person eats just right, he can live off about 0.05 hectares.  This means the farm can, under perfect circumstances, support about 81 people.  This doesn’t include space to sleep, live, set up a bathroom facility, kitchen, medical tent, and doesn’t account for imperfect farming or less-than-perfectly-efficient dietary choices.  I read that, at least on day one, 300 people occupied this farm.  So tell me, how is this sustainable?

    I strongly support the major sentiment underlying the Occupy movement that government and big business collude in such a way as to retain wealth and power and make things more difficult for the average American than they need to be.  I’m all for sustainable, local agriculture.  I think the typical North American diet has a lot of room for improvement.  But my guess as to what’s going on here is the same as that of Dwight__Lee and others.  These are:

    “confused people, I would recommend that they find a paying job, even one that they consider to be ‘beneath’ them, and to strive to do it well.”

  • guest

    why can,t they just be forced to leave  this  ” PRO MARXIST  ”   illegal occupation  of government property ?   it,s unlawful period…   REMOVE AND ARREST…    is that so hard to understand liberals ????

  • Dwight__Lee

    This is yet another sad commentary on the state of today’s aimless youth.  Squatting on UC property and living on donated food and water has nothing at all to do with improving agricultural technology or “sustainability”.  These attention-starved kids must be bored out of their minds. “Sustainable urban farm”?  Who do they think they are fooling?  A previously posted comment alluded to the role of poor parental
    guidance in leading young adults to burn their precious time on such
    ridiculous diversions, and I think that there is a grain of truth
    there.  On a more serious note, eventually the squatters will have to face reality and the consequences of their actions.  One can sympathize with the frustration of finishing a degree program saddled with debt and having few immediate professional prospects, however, the proper way to deal with adversity in life is not to make oneself a nuisance to others or to try fleeing from reality.  To these confused people, I would recommend that they find a paying job, even one that they consider to be “beneath” them, and to strive to do it well.  For example, I was faced with a tough job market after I obtained my bachelor’s degree, so I took a part-time, minimum wage job as a delivery driver.  It was hard work and the pay was meager, but I made a little money and got some experience for six months until I found a full-time professional job in my chosen field. There are jobs out there for you if you are willing to swallow your pride, roll up your sleeves, and learn from your mistakes and from the shared experiences of others.

    •  [For example, I was faced with a tough job market after I obtained my
      bachelor’s degree, so I took a part-time, minimum wage job as a delivery
      driver.  It was hard work and the pay was meager, but I made a little
      money and got some experience for six months until I found a full-time
      professional job in my chosen field.]

      Dwight, what you are describing here is simply how grown, mature adults handle adversity and move ahead (and I’m sure your second employer saw your willingness to take that first job as a sign that you weren’t afraid of real work). Unfortunately, too many young people have developed an entitlement  mentality that deems earning one’s spurs and paying one’s dues as beneath them. They whine and cry and tilt windmills at what they see as the entitled upper class without realizing that they possess many of the same attitudes as the caricature of the idle rich they pin on all people with money.

  • Russell Bates

    Go check out the farm and you might be surprised at what an accomplishment it surely is.Farming to feed a community surely is better than gmo food or corporate food.

    • Stan De San Diego

      If you think subsistence farming is the solution, why don’t you move to a third world country where that is a way of life, NOT by choice, but by lack of the same capital and technology you readily dismiss. I’m perfectly happy to buy my food from Safeway and spend my time on more productive endeavors. Then again, if you wasted you Cal years on majoring in Ethnic Studies, Sociologs, PACS or some other equally worthless crap, I fully understand why you might need a backup plan. Have fun competing with the illegals for picking lettuce…

      • I_h8_disqus

        While I agree with the main point you are trying to make, I disagree with your position on some majors at Cal.  I think that every major at Cal has value.  Even if there are some professors or students in the programs who add no value and even hurt the major.

        • Calipenguin

           Every bit of education and knowledge has value to someone.  However, if the state invests tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to provide esoteric knowledge to individuals who cannot contribute to the state’s economy and who also make nuisances of themselves to demand debt forgiveness while at the same time demanding new taxes on the corporations that could help the state, then the reasonable members of the community should stop those misguided individuals.

          •  Took the words right of of my mouth. Everyone bleats about education being an “investment”, but when you ask for the numbers, those who chant this mantra the loudest can’t seem to put any numbers on it. More and more, we are seeing that in many cases pursuit of certain liberal arts and humanities courses is NOT an “investment”, but in fact a LIABILITY. College requires not only money, but time, and if after 4, 5 or 6 years your earning ability is no better than that of a HS graduate, you’re not going to get ahead by delaying your entry into the work force for that period of time.

          • I_h8_disqus

            It would be great if it was a simple black and white situation where we could say to someone “you will be a burden to society so we won’t fund of your education to Cal.”  However, we can’t make that kind of statement about a whole group of people who major in a certain topic.  I have friends with liberal arts or science degrees who have gone on to make economic contributions to society that are  similar to friends in engineering or business.  Students at Cal are students.  We are still learning, so we will do some odd ball things and have some views of the world that will change as we learn.  I think it is unfair to label some majors as worthless, when most of the graduates will go on to contribute to our world.
            That does not mean that I won’t tell individuals that they are wrong in their thinking and actions.  I just consider that my own way of helping to educate them.

            PS. Tony makes a good point.  Parents and potential students should look critically at whether the college education they are wanting to pursue is a waste of time and money.

      • Calipenguin

         “Have fun competing with the illegals for picking lettuce.”
        It just occurred to me that thousands of illegals are trying to get into UC to escape a life of picking lettuce, and we have students who already got into Cal who aspire to become lettuce pickers.

    • I_h8_disqus

      I hope the kids remembered to get seeds that are not genetically modified or supplied from some large corporation.

    • Calipenguin

       Farming to feed Albany’s poor families might be better than GMO research, but the research could help develop crops that grow in desert or tundra environments using sea water and that could benefit millions of poor people around the world.

    • Guess

      And who is going to farm it? In a couple days once these people get bore of their spectacle they are going to leave it there. 

  • Gennie

    One resource they’re missing is an clue about what “farming” actually means and what farmers do.  My favorite piece of evidence is the posed picture of the Marxist “driving” a rototiller.  (Hint:  the ground in _front_ of the tiller is just as tilled as the ground behind it; that’s not what doing the hard work of tilling looks like) 

    Framing is hard work.  It’s only the use of machine power, fertilizer & hybrid seed that makes it possible for a full-time farmer to feed more than one or two people per acre.  These guys have no chance of even feeding themselves.

    • Stan De San Diego

      Gennie, everything you say it true, but keep in mind that these victims of arrested adolescence aren’t really interested in farming. It’s all a big show to get attention, just like tree-sitting, marching around with signs, or fighting with the cops.

  • Berkeleyprotest-real bp

    Bringing faculty to San Pablo and Marin Ave

  • Guest

    Lol, the people protesting for the rights of those without big financial-political influence don’t have enough financial-political influence to do so. The totally lack of irony is just so funny.

    •  No, the total irony is that a motley collection of clueless dipsticks who think the world would be a better place if only THEY were put in charge, had no real plan to begin with. Children play-acting political revolutionary think that “change” means marching around, making symbolic gestures and uttering self-important statements, as if everyone is on their tippy-toes wonder what Occupy is going to do next. What we are seeing is simply the result of bad parenting and a spineless administration that isn’t doing much better. Give them 30 minutes to vacate the premises on threat of being arrested for 602 P.C. (criminal trespassing) and expulsion from Cal. They don’t deserve much else…

    • libsrclowns

      It’s fun to watch Cal kiddies play acting. After tilling a bit “let’s go to Starucks”