File this in the category of occupying-the-land-with-things-that-were-meant-to-be-on-it-in-the-first-place.
As some of you may have heard, a couple of days ago a coalition of local residents, farmers, students, researchers, and activists took over the Gill Tract, 10 acres of the last remaining Class I agricultural soil in the urbanized East Bay area. Dubbed Occupy the Farm, these American patriots are populating this incredibly fertile and precious patch of land with veggie seedlings, chickens, rabbits and good vibes.
You know, this video of Day 1 makes me tear up, not only because my friend and fellow ecocity advocate Ashoka — one of the many folks who’ve been getting this off (or on) the ground — makes such an eloquent case for why this is the future that’s unfolding right in front of our eyes, but because this courageous and inspired act encapsulates so many of the solutions to so many of our problems.
Engaged citizens. Local food. Sustainable agriculture. Direct democracy. Ecocity principles. Urban farming. Green economy. Food justice. Soil preservation. Slow culture. Collaboration. Sustainable development. Education. Creativity. It’s all represented right here in this moment and place in time.
What may seem a subversive act at first becomes the most natural and self-evident course of action when you think for just a minute of the supreme absurdity that part of this public land administered by the University of California is to make way for a Whole Foods Market. They’re going to pour millions of gallons of concrete and slap hundreds of tons of steel and wood on this luscious soil so that the bamboo shelves can then be stocked with organic tomatoes from Mexico. Really? “We celebrate what we obliterate,” as my geography professor was prone to say.
Nothing against Whole Foods, but do we really need another one in Berkeley? I think we can do so much better, and that’s why the farmers are taking back the tract.
Day 2 and counting…
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