Occupy protesters turned farmers

When occupiers made it to a patch of UC-owned land in Albany, it was not business as usual. The tents did not go up until much later. So what the heck were they doing?

Farming.

Occupy Cal, Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco protesters tilled the land and planted hundreds of fruits and vegetables at the Gill Tract located at the corner of Marin and San Pablo Avenues.

The land was once used for research and experimentation. New plans for the land include a Whole Foods Market and senior center.

“Occupy the Farm” wants to show that land should be used for public good, according to organizer Gopal Dayaneni:

“This is the last, best agricultural land in the East Bay. Some research happens here, but the UC has been chopping it up and selling it off through the years, and it’s now been designated for capitalism.”

Participants marched from Ohlone Park in Berkeley to the plot in Albany. Approximately 200 people got their hands dirty for the cause.

Dayaneni said that protesters would camp overnight if not forced out by UCPD. Police had said earlier that protesters would be subject to citation or arrest if they remained on the property.

Farming for the Occupy cause may seem far-fetched, but converting the plot into farmland has been a topic of discussion before the birth of the movement.

UC Berkeley alumna Anya Kamenskaya conducted research on that very land. In 2009, she proposed the land be turned into a farm to teach young students about farming and healthy foods.

Her proposal was denied and since then, the land has been overrun with weeds:

“The University of California is a public institution — the land is public land, so it belongs to all of us. Many people in the East Bay have to depend on the corporate-industrial food complex for financial reasons, but we’re dedicated to teaching them how to grow their own food so they can put it to use in their individual communities.”

Occupy Cal member Ian Saxton believes that this effort was the best of the movement:

“The Occupy movement brings together a diverse group of people with a wide range of perspectives, experiences and skill sets. That potential is being realized today.”