Meet the New Farm, Same as the Old Farm? Occupy Seizes Berkeley's "Gill Tract"
The Occupiers heavily advertised their "Children's Village," unveiled on Saturday so the media could film it. Some parents brought their kids to the festivities.
A man sat alone in the weeds, wearing a shirt that used the word "far" as a verb.
Most of the action was in the sanitary — really, it was very very hygienic, I swear — Occupy Kitchen area, where Occupiers clustered around and ate food produced by agribusiness and corporations.
To justify their theft of publicly owned land, the Occupiers produced this magnificent manifesto explaining the moral underpinnings of their action, and then posted it at the front gate of the farm. It might be a little hard to read at this size, so click on the image to see it in full-size high resolution. Here's a transcription:
This Poster Comes Out of the Gill Tract Occupation
On April 22, 2012, students, activists and neighbors came together to reclaim the last untouched tract of soil in the East Bay. This piece of public land has been (mis)managed by the University of California Regents for private interest for generations. On Earth Day, the land was liberated; transformed into a living, breathing space for the community to know food and stories.
This farm embodies what we envision as an alternative to the profit-drivern educational system. With bolt-cutters, shovels, Roto-tillers and thousands of plants: we reclaim our right to shape our communities, our universities + our minds + bodies.
Love the Land!
This is what the ecstatic wonder of a truly public education looks + feels like.
Isn't that precious? Pin it on the bulletin board next to the turkey-hand tracings and the construction-paper collages.
As always happens with Occupations, the Occupiers spend almost all of their energy on the day-to-day business of occupying, and rarely have much time to actually do whatever it is they claim they're doing at that particular Occupation. Thus, in this case, as I witnessed out in the fields, not much in the way of actual farming has happened yet; as the camp's official volunteer sign-up sheet reveals, nearly 80% of the activities at the "farm" have nothing whatsoever to do with farming, but instead are political and/or household chores. Of the 51 volunteer man-hour time-slots listed, 40 (79%) are non-farm activities ("parking/trash transport," "table crew for workshops," "kitchen," "Porta Pottie cleaning," "trash can monitor," "security (creepwatch)," "MCs," "movie set-up," "childcare/art," "media tent," and "info desk," while only 11 (21%) are farm-related (planting, watering, permaculture, and to be generous "clucking," which may have something to do with chickens).
Because, prior to the Occupation, this tract of land was used exclusively for agricultural research (and not establishing a grunge encampment), there's actually less farming going on now than there was before.
But that fact gets in the way of The Narrative, so it must be vigorously discarded and ignored.
UPDATE ON MAY 14: