A Global Food Initiative Starts at Home
Berkeley students rally at the Regents Meeting
Media Contact: Vanessa Raditz 202 510 6861
Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
San Francisco, CA – This morning, UC Berkeley students, alumni, and community members rallied and gave public comments at the Regents Meeting in San Francisco. The group congratulated UC President Napolitano on her new “Global Food Initiative” and asked her to walk her talk- by halting the development of the Gill Tract farm.
The proposed commercial development on the Gill Tract farm has faced community resistance for over 17 years, including a high-profile encampment by Occupy the Farm in 2012. This protest won back 10 acres of the land for education, research and community use. However, the UC still plans to develop the remaining 10 acres of the Gill Tract, and the proposal includes a controversial big box grocery store known for union busting and green washing, while sourcing from unsustainable and unjust conventional farms.
Students for Engaged and Active Learning (SEAL) recently put together a petition that already has over 1,500 signatures, re-launching the fight against the proposed development. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/a-food-initiative-on
At this Regents Meeting, students and community supporters highlighted the hypocrisy of this commercial development in light of Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative.
* Vanessa Raditz, Master of Public Health Candidate: “The UC says that it wants to tackle food insecurity across the globe, while their actions are negatively impacting their own local community. The current proposed development will bring more traffic and air pollution, hurt locally owned businesses, and destroy the chance for this space to be a cutting edge educational and research project.”
* Dea Oganesian, Undergraduate student at UC Berkeley and the Operations Assistant for the Student Organic Gardening Association (SOGA): “I see and hear the demand for hands-on learning spaces from students every time I am in the garden. Hundreds of students came through the garden this past year, and our very small plot can’t adequately provide as much learning as these eager students want. The Gill Tract could be used as a sustainable agriculture learning space for UC students. If you’re really about a Global Food Initiative, start here, at home!”
* Effie Rawlings, UC Berkeley Alum, B.A. in Social Welfare: “Paving over local farmland for a big box store is a sad example of everything wrong with our food system. The Gill Tract is a unique opportunity for the UC to show the world how to do food right. There has been a community proposal for a center for sustainable agriculture in this space since 1997- and that alternative is still right at our finger tips.”
Students and community are saying that if the UC wants to have a “Global Food Initiative”, they need to start with a local food initiative, by looking at their very own actions at home.