Twelve weeks after Occupy the Farm embarked on an arduous pursuit of local farming, the shine of the once promising movement has withered away like the leaves of a weary crop.
Last Monday, the Albany City Council voted to approve the University Village Mixed Use Project, which entails building a senior housing complex, mixed retail center and Whole Foods Market on UC-owned land in the city.
We are in favor of the council’s decision and frustrated by the uncooperative approach of the protesters.
Originally, we were excited by the occupation of the UC-owned Gill Tract, where community and Occupy members protested the project and advocated for a sustainable local farm. Yes, we were bothered that they disregarded university research on the land, but the occupation seemed to have potential.
Throughout the encampment, the campus attempted to compromise while the protesters remained stagnant and stubborn. The university said it was open to the possibility of a farm, but time and time again, the farmers were not receptive in entering discussions with the campus. After the police’s May 14 raid on the camp — it is, after all, university property — the campus even dropped its lawsuit against 15 of the protesters. And on July 7, Occupy the Farm members broke into the Gill Tract to weed and harvest the crops they planted during their occupation — yet the police, in good faith, did not arrest them.
Still the members of the Occupy the Farm movement won’t even acknowledge the campus’s favorable attitude. The campus has continually extended olive branches to the protesters only to be spurned. Enough is enough.
The protesters are standoffish, and their goals are unclear. The land they had been occupying is not even the land where the University Village Mixed Use Project will be built. If the members had been just a little flexible, just a little willing to talk, or even compromise, maybe they would have had more positive results.
In the end, the protest never evolved. And Occupy the Farm blew its chance.