Albany, CA: Activists raise stakes with renegade farm

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

A tussle between preservationists and UC Berkeley over a decadelong development project in Albany erupted into a pitchfork protest Sunday, when activists planted a renegade farm on a plot of land known as the Gill Tract in an effort to keep it agriculturally pristine.

Timing their action to Earth Day, about 200 members of Occupy the Farm to Take Back the Gill Tract broke a lock on a gate, rototilled the soil and planted carrot, broccoli and corn seedlings on part of the 10-acre site at Marin and San Pablo avenues. The Albany tract is owned by UC Berkeley, which has plans for further housing and commercial development nearby.

Police were on hand not long after the activists broke in at mid-afternoon and informed them they were breaking the law, but no arrests were made.

By early evening, there was no police presence visible at the site, located near a busy street corner just east of Highway 80. Most of the activists had departed, but 50 or 60 planned to camp out at the site and had begun erecting tents.

Anya Kamenskaya, a spokeswoman for the group, said police officers told them they might return, but it was unclear if they would try to evict them.

“Our goal is not to live here, our goal is to create a working urban agro-ecological farm,” Kamenskaya said.

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