Petition statement to be delivered to Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor of University of California, Berkeley, and Regents of the University of California

A Food Initiative on the Gill Tract Farm

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A Food Initiative on the Gill Tract Farm

To be delivered to Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor of University of California, Berkeley, and Regents of the University of California

Petition Statement

We urge UC Berkeley administration, the UC Regents, and President Napolitano to halt the current development plan for the Gill Tract Farm and enter into a collaborative design process with students and community for the entire Gill Tract Farm.
There are currently 3,197 signatures. NEW goal - We need 4,000 signatures!

Petition Background

A Food Initiative on the Gill Tract Farm

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VIDEO ABOUT PETITION:
How smart is it for a major university to pave over half of its last research farm? One graduate student takes us on a tour and synthesizes 15 years of efforts into a stunning vision of what this land could be. Once home to the world's premiere organic pest control research center, U.C. Berkeley is about to build a parking lot and a big box grocery store on this prime soil. According to Katie McKnight (Master of Environmental Planning, 2016), this dismal scenario does not have to be the answer for this unique urban farm.

Video link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx-avVDbpf4

BACKGROUND ABOUT PETITION:
For over 15 years, faculty, students, and local community have protested the commercial development of the historic Gill Tract Farm and research site, managed by UC Berkeley. These concerned stakeholders have crafted several alternative proposals, advocating for its preservation as an educational resource (like the 1997 BACUA Proposal [1]). In 2012, after neighbors and students occupied the land in protest of its commercial development, a 1.5 acre section called "Area A," now called “Gill Tract Community Farm” was transferred from Capital Projects to the College of Natural Resources and became a pilot project for a new community-UC collaboration. That project is flourishing, and we hope to see it grow to all 16 acres rather than the commercial development.

Meanwhile, the commercial development that would pave over the southern portion of the Gill Tract is slated to begin any day. This development design, with its vast parking lot, big-box grocery store, and retail stores is out of touch with community and student needs. A new grocery store is being built just two blocks from the Gill Tract, making it unnecessary to build another national chain store that trucks in produce from across the globe. Furthermore, the additional diesel from delivery trucks and the removal of bioremediating trees and green space-- in a neighborhood whose air quality is already highly impacted by industry and roadways [2] -- would be damaging to the public health of the surrounding community.

The UC has begun to prioritize food systems as a critical area for expansion, but this statement has yet to be put into practice. A center for urban agriculture and sustainable food systems at the Gill Tract would accomplish all four goals of the recent President Napolitano's Food Initiative [2]. The 16 acres are uniquely suited to be developed as a model food system that integrates farming, economics, culture, and public health. It would make UC resources accessible to the public through hands-on education and participatory research, and develop precedent for establishing authentic University to community relationships. This dynamic model could help make the UC system a global leader on issues of food and farming, while improving student education through engaged and active learning.

Student and community voices now join together and demand that our public University reconsider the development and work to involve student and community participation in developing an alternative design that integrates the land's potential for education, research, food production, and distribution.

A group of undergraduates, graduates, and alumnae delegates are prepared to meet and move forward with this process.
We urge UC Berkeley administration, the UC Regents, and President Napolitano to halt the current development plan for the Gill Tract Farm and enter into a collaborative design process with students and community for the entire Gill Tract Farm.

Sincerely,
Students for Engaged and Active Learning

Co-Sponsors for Petition:
Fossil Free Cal, Student Organic Garden Association, Grow the Revolution, Berkeley Student Food Cooperative, UAW 2865, Movement Generation, Planting Justice, Phat Beets Produce, Gill Tract Farm Coalition, Occupy the Farm, Food First, Albany Farm Alliance, Grassroots International, Hormigas Organicas, Rooted in Community, Sustainable Economies Law Center, Biosafety Alliance

More on our website: www.sealstudents.wordpress.com

1 http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/srr/BACUA/bacua_proposal.htm

2 http://oehha.maps.arcgis.com/apps/OnePane/basicviewer/index.html?appid=1d202d7d9dc84120ba5aac97f8b39c56

3 http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/university-california-plans-major-foodag-initiative/

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