Campus clears Occupy the Farm crops

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Acting under the direction of campus administrators, UC Berkeley officials cleared crops Friday planted by Occupy the Farm protesters at UC-owned research land in Albany.

According to Krystof Lopaur, a member of the Occupy the Farm movement, campus workers arrived on the Gill Tract last Wednesday and cleared a “large portion” of the land excluding the crops planted by the protesters but returned Friday to remove the crops the protesters planted.

In an open letter released by the campus Nov. 16, UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless outlined the campus’s intention to turn over the soil and clear the remaining plants this winter to make room for cover crops that would add nutrients to the land. According to the letter, the clearing of crops last week is part of the campus’s plan to use all of the farmland for the “investigation of food systems and food security issues.”

Despite Gilless’ claim in his letter that the campus gave Occupy the Farm members “advance notice” of its intentions to clear the tract, Lopaur said that members of the movement were unaware of the operation beforehand.

Occupy the Farm activists took over a portion of the Gill Tract in April and planted crops there in protest of the campus’s plans to develop another part of the land into a housing and retail center. Protesters continued to break into the property throughout the summer and into the fall to tend to the crops, arguing that the land should be accessible to the community as an urban farm.

“We’re going to continue having meetings with the community, and we’re going to continue organizing people,” Lopaur said. “These projects are not contingent on whether the UC is going to destroy our crops.”

Occupy the Farm will release a response to the removal of its crops and Gilless’ open letter on Monday.

The campus could not immediately be reached for comment.

Justin Abraham covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected].