A group calling themselves Occupy the Farm to Take Back the Gill Tract broke open a fence on Sunday surrounding some vacant land in Albany and, in honor of Earth Day, started building an urban farm. The land is referred to as the Gill Tract and it's a 10-acre site at Marin and San Pablo Avenues that's owned by UC Berkeley and has become the subject of a scuffle between the university and preservationists, who have long wanted the land to remain undeveloped and to become a farm.
The land is intended to become part of the University Village development project, two phases of which are already complete on an adjacent site. The plan is for it to eventually be home to some Little League fields that are being relocated to make way for a new senior housing complex and grocery store. Yesterday, the group of 200 protesters tried to "take back" the land by bringing in a rototiller, tilling a section of soil, and planting carrot, broccoli and corn seedlings. The group said they were not affiliated with Occupy Oakland or Berkeley.
Police arrived on the scene and informed everybody that they were breaking the law, but no arrests were made. A community activist who's been fighting for a similar solution for the land for fifteen years said that the action was "very dramatic and extremely fantastic."
Stay tuned for the dramatic scene when authorities or UC representatives come and try to dig up those seedlings.