Occupy the Farm: A New Encampment In Albany

Photos and reporting by Daniel Tiger

This afternoon at 3 p.m., nearly 300 Albany residents entered a piece of property owned by the University of California called the Gill Tract, and took it over as a renegade urban farm. The protesters there are planning to remain at the property, and request donations of tents and other supplies to build their encampment.

The plot of land, at the corner of Buchanan Street and San Pablo Avenue directly across from the Albany Police Headquarters, is currently set to be sold off and privatized as a location for a new Whole Foods store. These Albany residents want the land, currently an open field, to be used as a community farm.

(Chickens en route to the new farm.)

According to Emilie Raguso’s article in Patch, the Gill Tract activists began planting about 10,000 vegetable seedlings in the field, and the group is calling itself “Occupy the Farm.”

(Resisting the impending arrival of a new Whole Foods location, Occupy the Farm activists are staking out the property as a community garden.)

(Revolutionary chickens prepare for their new home at Gill Tract.)

(Planting seedlings in the fertile soil near the I-80 Buchanan Street exit.)

Occupy the Farm is accepting monetary donations at TakeBackTheTract.com, and posted the following two encouragements to Occupiers looking to get involved:

• Join us: Come dressed to work! We need people to help till the soil, plant seedlings, teach workshops, and more.

• Donate/lend: We need shovels, rakes, pickaxes, rototillers, drip irrigation tape, gloves, hats, food, and anything else farming related!

“For ten years people in Albany have tried to turn the Gill Tract into an Urban Farm and a more open space for the community. The people in the Bay Area deserve to use this treasure of land for an urban farm to help secure the future of our children,” explained Jackie Hermes-Fletcher, a teacher who has worked in public schools for 38 years, who is also a resident of Albany.