Members of Occupy the Farm to meet with campus representatives Thursday night

Members of Occupy the Farm stopped by the ASUC Senate meeting on Wednesday night, and gave plants to all of the senators. Later that evening, the senate passed a bill to support the Occupy the Farm movement.
Taryrn Erhardt/Senior Staff
Members of Occupy the Farm stopped by the ASUC Senate meeting on Wednesday night, and gave plants to all of the senators. Later that evening, the senate passed a bill to support the Occupy the Farm movement.

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Members of Occupy the Farm — who are part of the 11-day old encampment on UC-owned land in Albany — will meet with campus representatives Thursday night, a day after receiving the support of the ASUC Senate.

Occupy the Farm Spokesperson Anya Kamenskaya said members are interested to hear the concerns of the university at the meeting, which will occur at 6:30 p.m. in California Hall.

The university has been in communication with the occupiers’ lawyers and requested the meeting on Tuesday, according to Kamenskaya.

In an open letter presented to the occupiers Wednesday night, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton told the occupiers they are open to discussions about designating part of the land for metropolitan farming but reiterated that the encampment must end.

“We cannot accept anything that will impede the ongoing and important work of our students and faculty,” reads the letter. “We are also deeply concerned by challenges and concerns arising from dozens of people living on an agricultural tract adjacent to an elementary school and residential areas.”

Kamenskaya said campus officials have “always been welcome” at the movement’s community meetings but that the university has “never expressed interest in coming down to the farm.”

College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless has in fact visited the farm to speak with protesters. In a letter issued Thursday, Gilless said that he has consistently expressed willingness to facilitate “meaningful dialogue about the future of the Gill Tract,” and his firm belief “that biology research and a well-organized metropolitan agriculture program could ultimately not just co-exist on the site, but benefit from interaction.”

At its last meeting of the semester Wednesday, the ASUC Senate unanimously voted for a bill to support the Occupy the Farm movement.

The bill — written by Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein — asked the senate to support the occupation’s goal of maintaining a productive, educational farm and urges the university to reopen the water supply to the Gill Tract. About five student representatives gave a presentation during the meeting that detailed the history of the land and the occupation.

The representatives asked the senate to put pressure on campus administration to restore access to water that had previously been turned off.

“This is the evolution of the Occupy movement,” said junior Devin Murphy, who added that historically the movement has not had clear demands. “Occupy the Farm is willing to negotiate with the university and UCPD.”

In their presentation, the representatives said “the university has decided to sell off prime soil land for a retail center and quick money.” The protesters have marked 10 acres of the land for their farm.

But according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof, the university does not plan to “sell off prime soil.” The university intends to turn the land into an open and recreational space, as requested by the Albany community, according to Mogulof.

The administration’s decision to cut off access to the water included turning off a fire hydrant, a move that could endanger the lives of nearby residents and farm occupants, according to senior Navid Shaghaghi. Additionally, Shaghaghi said the lack of easily accessible water could disrupt research from being conducted on the farm and poses a potential sanitation problem, seemingly exacerbating the campus administration’s earlier claims about lack of sanitation on the farm, before protesters installed port-a-potties at the site.

Mogulof said the fire hydrants were not turned off at the encampment, and that the university “would absolutely never turn off a fire hydrant across the street from an elementary school.”

Albany Fire Department could not confirm whether any hydrants were shut off on the Gill Tract. UC Deputy Fire Marshal Greg Van Aken said that he deals exclusively with the campus, and did not know anything about the Gill Tract fire hydrants.

The representatives left potted plants for the senators and encouraged them to visit the farm.

This article has been updated to reflect campus response to allegations made in the original version.

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  • Jackie

    Speaking as a citizen of Albany, we have not voted to turn the 11 acre pristine agricultural land, farmed for the past 100 years, “into an open and recreational space” as mentioned by Don Mogulof in the article above. The Albany City Council may have made some backroom deals, but having walked those neighborhoods and talked with hundreds of Albany people, most people want to save that ag land for an urban farm.

    Over the past 15 years many environmental groups in the Bay Area, at different times, have made proposals to UCB to keep this 11 acre Gill Tract land an urban farm. They have been stonewalled and ignored. Now, thanks to the Occupiers, a new conversation has opened up this possibility again in Albany and the surrounding neighborhoods. There is ag land available for the East Bay to plant food. We need to save that land in these times of uncertainty.

    So, twenty acres of tillable land left on the Gill Tract. UCB wants to build a 90,000′ project on 6 of those acres, which are now meadows/ corner of Monroe and San Pablo in Albany.
    The other 11 acres is prime century old farmed soil located right next this proposed giant project. We want ag land to stay ag land! Come see for yourselves at the corner of San Pablo Ave and Marin/Buchanan St.

    “Open and recreational space”, used above by Don Mogulof, are code words for baseball and soccer fields, playground equipment and maybe a dog park. This would essentially “pave over” the remaining 11 acres of agricultural land on the Gill Tract.

    Right now signatures have been collected for a referendum in Albany that will allow citizens to vote on how we can keep the 6 meadow acres from a 57,000 sq ft Whole Foods and non affordable Senior housing for people with dimentia. Both of these companies are from Texas.
    We prefer local.

    Many people want a small local co-op grocery, a park and lots of bike pathways on that 6 acres instead of Whole Foods. Many people want the ball fields to stay where they are which if this Whole Foods project goes through, the ball fields would be moved onto the 11 acre Gill Tract ag land. Many people in Albany and surrounding community want to keep the 11 acre farm land agricultural in perpituity in concert with an agroecological educational center as well.

    If you know of a Land Trust or other creative ways to save the 11 acres for an urban farm, please contact

  • I_h8_disqus

    Have we seen the ASUC ever vote against protesters?

  • Carlos

    Gee, DC — great story about what was going to happen — too bad you don’t have any story about what actually happened.         No follow-up?   Damn good journalism going on.

  • Guest

    Time for you all to Occupy a Job. This movement is a bunch of losers “fighting the power”, in reality they are just wasting student money as we continue to pay UCPD more and more because they are forced to babysit these occupiers. 

    • libsrclowns

      They don’t need to be baby sat. You authority-loving boot lickers just think everyone needs a police officer breathing down their necks. 

  • Arnie

    “Kamenskaya said campus officials have “always been welcome” at the movement’s community meetings but that the university has “never expressed interest in coming down to the farm.””

    Well, now we know which side of the dispute is willing to baldly lie. The Daily Cal has published pictures of Dean Gills talking to people at the Gill Tract.  

    • Cal Student

      I think by Dean Gills you are referring to Dean Gilless? Well, him talking to people at Gill Tract is different than him attending a meeting there. Your claim is similar to saying that since bill has a picture in the white house then he must work there.

  • bp berkeley protest

    overwhelming majority of gravy

  • M. luudensis

    Many points in the article are incorrect and with the amount of information available inaccuracies could be easily avoided but instead provide grounds to claim bias.  The “prime soil” is not the site of proposed plans for commercial development. The water turnoff has not had an effect off of the field site.  The water being off now has nothing to do with future research crops.  If you are going to quote people at least investigate the statements so they can be reported in context.  Pictures of university officials at the farm clearly invalidates one of the first quotes presented. Please at least attempt to present an unbiased story, most of us hate fox news for doing the same thing.

    • M. luudensis

      I noticed that this article was removed for some time and then reposted again with edits attempting to clarify the quotes.   I guess the editor agreed with my statement about actually investigating claims.  It is a nice sentiment but surely editorial oversight should occur before a news story is run and not afterwards once inaccuracies become evident.  

      • Anon

        Someone’s full of themselves.

        • M. luudensis

          Clearly.  And that someone doesn’t like unbiased reporting of facts.

          • M. luudensis

            For those that prefer satire and opinion here you go.

            http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/

          • Greg

            So you are saying you are for the addition of lies by the Administration? The fire hydrant was really shut off! I went out there last weekend for a few events they had including speeches by several World famous UC Berkeley Professors and saw that hydrant myself! It had a service bag on it and some sort of apparatus connected to it which clearly said: “U.C.B.” The university endangered the lives of little elementary children by doing that!    

          • Guest123

            The only way these jackasses would have known about the fire hydrant is if they tried to use it to get water – something that is completely illegal.