Sprouts Management Intimidates Protests of Their Brand

The management of the chain supermarket retailer Sprouts “Farmers Market” is intimidating and repressing protestors who are speaking out about their greenwashed brand, which is set to pave historic Gill Tract farmland in the East Bay.

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One week after a large demonstration at their chain in Walnut Creek, protestors planned a follow-up action for the chain in Petaluma. Over the course of the week before the Petaluma action, Sprouts management sent protestors legal documents suggesting that the parking lot in front of the chain supermarket was not a “free speech” zone, in an attempt to intimidate protestors. On the morning of the protest, the management called for an unprecedented large turnout of police before the first protestors had even arrived, again as an attempt to intimidate. Finally, the Sprouts Management mislead their employees to perceive protestors as violent, telling them false and embellished stories of past protests.

Sprouts is known to be a union-busting grocery store with frequent labor violations. This corporate-style management is not surprising for the chain, despite their “farmers market brand”.

Boycott Sprouts organizers say that they stand with Sprouts employees, who face labor violations in the food system, but they will continue to demonstrate and highlight the greenwashing of the Sprouts corporation, until they pull out of the development of the historic Gill Tract farm.

Shutting Down Sprouts Supermarket….

Reportback from the #GilltractDefense and Boycott Sprouts action on March 14, 2015 in Walnut Creek, Calif.

By Kaitlin Oki and Kat Perkins

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Arranged in a human blockade in the main entrance of the Sprouts Farmers Market in Walnut Creek, California Saturday afternoon, I and two dozen others held a sit-in around the remnants of one of the 53 trees demolished in late February in preparation for the construction of Sprouts’s newest location: the Gill Tract in Albany, California. In defiance of the commercial development of the last remaining agricultural land in the Albany-Berkeley area and the destruction of the Gill Tract Community Farm, Occupy the Farm activists, Fast Food Workers Union delegates, veterans, students, and community members picketed, bearing the branches of the felled trees, chanted to the tunes of the Brass Liberation Orchestra and Occupella, and spoke about the boycott.

The best part came with an entourage of ralliers armed with shopping carts, marching into Sprouts “Farmers Market” to the head-turning resonance of brass instruments and snare drums. As I danced between the aisles of individually packaged containers of dried fruit and gourmet candies, I mused that this was probably the closest the store had come to resembling an authentic farmers market. You know — the kind with actual farmers, live music, and values not preceded by dollar signs.image05

What a travesty! The whole situation is so absurd it makes me laugh. Not only does the corporate chain of Sprouts continually misrepresent its products as “local” and “natural” and plaster its walls with romanticized agricultural imagery, but it also neatly packages the entirety of its capitalist culture, union-busting actions, and monolithic corporate structure within stucco walls and hardwood floors and labels it in big green letters: FARMERS MARKET. And then proceeds to layer a thick slab of cement and pavement atop the last remaining bit of viable agricultural land in the Berkeley-Albany area. Land rich with humus and sweat and tears. Land sold by the Gill family almost hundred years ago to the land-grant University of California for the purposed of agricultural research to benefit the public. Land labored, loved, and defended by dozens of student farmers, stewarded and shaped by the hands of a community for the development image00of community. Not simply rows of beautiful purple kale and hearty beans and summer squash, but the tangible staging ground for defiance in the face of the privatization and commodification of public resources (e.g., food, land, and education) and the destruction of community common spaces and active civic participation. At the very least, I hope Sprouts customers can recognize the blatant irony if not the atrocious insult of abusing the phrase “farmers market” in this way.

A visibly puzzled Walnut Creek shopper turned to me amongst the commotion, “What’s going on?” I explained, “We’re farmers of the Gill Tract— one of the last pieces of farmland in the Berkeley-Albany area. And this store is trying to pave over our farm, so we’re protesting — disrupting Sprouts’ business as usual until they stop disrupting our community.”

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Indeed, a handful of the Sprouts staff stood by passively at the back of the store behind rolling smartphone cameras. A fellow rallier repeatedly asked a butcher, “Excuse me. Can I please get five pounds of ribeye?” who politely nodded and then mysteriously disappeared behind the meats counter. Sprouts customers quickly grew more confused and/or annoyed trying to navigate the now crowded aisles. Business, indeed, was not proceeding as usual. A few moments later, and a police officer redirected me toward the second entrance, where Sprouts customers and ralliers alike headed in a sudden exodus, police nipping at our heels. I abandoned my half-full grocery cart and followed suit.

Abruptly, not more than ten feet ahead, grocery carts fell noisily to the floor in front of the automatic sliding doors. In the next moment, a storefront display was upset, and within seconds, multiple police swiftly rushed past me and shoved their way through the crowd, handcuffed the woman now down on the sidewalk, and escorted her to a police vehicle parked on Geary Road. The rally kept pace, shouting in unison, “Let her go! Let her go!” and offering the woman reassurance through the tinted glass. Another minute, and the police car sped away.

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Infuriated and distraught, we returned to the storefront. Briefly it seemed the positive energy and enthusiasm of the rally would dissipate. At this point, however, one of the rally organizers picked up the bullhorn. He reminded us that we would not back down in the face of adversity and police diversionary tactics — that we would continue to exercise our rights and challenge oppressive institutions, be it police, corrupt UC regents, or the privatization of the commons. And after all, we had just successfully shut down the store. That said, the brass band picked up their instruments, and dancing and chanting ensued once again.

image01It’s exactly this kind of attitude that restores my faithincreating positive change in a world that often seems unkind. It’s the kind of thing that reawakens my heart when my mind has become saturated with one tragic news headline after another. And to know this is only the beginning, only the first of many things to come — that gives me hope. We’re not stopping now, nor anytime soon — not until Sprouts and the University of California drop the idea of paving over any inch of our twenty acres. We will disrupt business as usual until they terminate their contract with the University. We will continue to point out the hypocrisy of police who enact violence on our communities, target women of color, and protect the theft of public resources. I think I can speak on the behalf of many present at the rally when I say that I felt a renewed commitment to action against corporate land grabs, greenwashed groceries, and a privatized University of California.

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#BoycottSprouts Stores to Save the Gill Tract Farm

Protest Sprouts Stores With Us or Where You Live to Save the Gill Tract Farm. Please visit www.boycottsprouts.com and share this post by email, facebook, and whatever means you have.

Yesterday, March 14, 2015, over 150 people held a protest outside Sprouts Farmers Market in Walnut Creek to save the 20 acre Gill Tract Farm. The national grocery store chain intends to pave over a historic piece of farmland in Albany, CA, just north of Berkeley and Oakland, to build a supermarket that is not truly a farmers’ market. With continuous actions to disrupt Sprouts stores throughout the country, of which there are hundreds, we can get Sprouts to drop the contract with the University of California at Berkeley and preserve the Gill Tract farmland to create a community center for regenerative agriculture, education, and local, organic food production.

We need people to organize protests, boycotts, shop-ins, creative disruptions and direct actions at Sprouts Farmers Market locations across the United States to pressure the company to not develop the land.

After the 2012 Occupy The Farm action, Whole Foods dropped the contract they held to build a grocery store on the land, under community pressure that said, “We need this farmland for farming.”

Occupy the Farm trailer:

 

We need people-powered agricultural innovation, and we need it fast.

NASA’s senior water scientist was just published in Newsweek -http://www.newsweek.com/nasa-california-has-one-year-water-… – saying that California, which produces much of the food for the entire country, and much of the food for the world, has one year of water left within the context of the current drought and our current agricultural and industrial water-use practices. The Gill Tract Community Farm, which is home to three creeks, has the potential to a be a 20-acre research and educational farm to demonstrate the regenerative food growing techniques and strategies that can bring us into a healthy future where people eat well, water cycles are replenished, and soil and ecology is improved.

The same water scientist said that, “Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.” There is no time to allow for the current corporate and government structures to run their course. We need grassroots, people-powered, direct action now to create the future we want to live in. Join us in preserving this land and pioneering a center for regenerative food production, permaculture, and agro-ecology. It is through these methods that we can catch and store rainwater in the land, build topsoil, and produce an abundance of local, organic, healthy food for everyone.

This is an invitation to take action where you live. Look here -https://www.sprouts.com/stores/search – to find a store closest to you. Call your friends, co-workers, and extended network. Organize a protest. Hand out flyers calling for a boycott of Sprouts Farmers Market, found here -http://www.boycottsprouts.com/#!resources/cnsl – for printing. If you’re daring, organize a shop-in, disruption, or take other creative action to let Sprouts know we can’t let them develop this land. Here’s how we organized yesterday’s protest – http://www.boycottsprouts.com/… – and how you can organize one at your local Sprouts. Mimic this model, pull bits and pieces, or come up with your own. Every action, and every person, makes a huge difference.

Watch the video of yesterday’s protest here –

Through our collective action to stop the damage being done to our communities and the earth, we open the door to create the alternatives we want to see. Be a part of it.

Contact OccupyFarm@gmail.com for guidance in how to organize a protest where you live, or to get involved locally.

Thank you,
Concerned Gill Tract Farmers

www.BoycottSprouts.com

Support Occupy The Farm on March 14th

#GillTractDefense Rally at Sprouts

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March 14th at 1:00 pm 

Sprouts “Farmer’s Market” Walnut Creek Retail Store

1530 Geary Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94597

NEED A RIDE from Berkeley? RSVP for a ride here!

RSVP and invite friends on facebook!

This is a Call for Support! In the early morning of Thursday, February 26th, UC Berkeley’s office of Capital Projects brought in a huge demolition team and police force to clear-cut 53 trees on the south side of the historic Gill Tract. For 20 years, the local community, students, and faculty have attempted to create a visionary research and education center on this public land. In 

2012 Occupy the Farm’s successful land occupations pushed out Whole Foods from the development, and saved 10 acres for 10 years. But 5-6 acres of the southern half of the Gill Tract is now under threat of imminent development, and our ability to create a 20 acre community-driven living laboratory for a Just Transition could disappear in an instant.

Click here to read a complete update on OTF’s website.

 

Why focus on Sprouts?  We’ve kicked out Whole Foods, and we can kick out Sprouts, setting back the entire development project. Not only is Sprouts “farmer’s market” the anchor tenant on the Gill Tract development, it is also a big-box, union-busting corporate chain supermarket that ships in food from all over the world and relies on food system injustices to make a profit. Their use of the word “Farmer’s Market” confuses the public and undermines local farmers who rely on real farmer’s markets for their livelihood. Read more here.

 What else can you do right now?

  1. Tell us what you’re into.  From web design, to farming, to social media and outreach, we need all hands on deck.  This quick survey will help us connect you to the action,  no matter where in the world you are. 
  2. Call and Email Ted Frumkin, Sprouts’ Senior Vice President of Business Development. Tell him: “DON’T BUILD YOUR NEW STORE ON THE GILL TRACT!”  tedfrumkin@sprouts.com; 602-682-1556
  3. Join our social media campaign: Take a photo of yourself with your definition of a farmer’s market, letting Sprouts know we see through their greenwash, and tweet or Facebook : @sproutsfm Don’t pave the Gill Tract for your  fake farmers market! #BoycottSprouts  #GillTractDefense  #OccupyTheFarm
  4. Donate on our website, occupythefarm.org.  We run almost entirely on people power, but things like fuel and website domains add up.

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Thank you for your continued support, love, and vision.  Hope to see you Saturday!

In soil we trust,

The OTF Collective

Twitter: @OccupyFarm

Facebook: Occupy the Farm

Everything can change in a second. We build from here.

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In the early morning of Thursday, February 26th, UC Berkeley’s office of Capital Projects commissioned the clear-cut of 60 trees on the south side of the historic Gill Tract Farm. The UC’s quick move to begin clearing the way for their proposed housing and shopping complex shocked farmers and neighbors, who are still awaiting a date for an active lawsuit on appeal in the county courts contesting the development’s detrimental environmental impact. Knowing the community would mobilize to defend the trees, the UC hired a huge demolition team and police force, cutting down the trees with lightning speed before community could arrive.

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Background
For 20 years, the local community, students, and faculty have attempted to create a Center for Urban Agriculture on this public land. In 2012, Occupy the Farm’s successful land occupations pushed out Whole Foods from the development, transferred 10 acres of land from Capital Projects to the College of Natural Resources for 10 years, and established a new community farm project on 1.13 acres. Our community is in mourning, but we continue to actively farm on the north side of the land, where we build local community, teach and engage students in the root injustices in the corporate food system, and grow affordable produce for food insecure communities.

We envision this 1.13 acre project expanding to all 20 acres of the historic Gill Tract farmland, to include model permaculture gardens, farmers markets and urban food distribution hubs, outdoor classrooms and kitchens, traditional medicinal herbs and more. We envision an authentic community-driven living laboratory for what we need for a Just Transition.

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But with the 60 trees suddenly lost, the southern 5-6 acres of the Gill Tract is now under threat of imminent development and our ability to implement our vision could disappear in an instant. We are expediting our action plan, and we need your help. Join the Emergency Bulldozer Response Team.

Boycott Sprouts!
When Whole Foods pulled out of the development after Occupy the Farm’s actions, the entire project was pushed back two years. We need to take our story directly to the new anchor tenant, Sprouts “Farmer’s Market to pressure them to pull out. If Sprouts pulls out, it sends them back to the drawing board, and gives us more time for our longer-term strategy to ensure permanent protection of all 20 acres.

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Focusing on Sprouts is also larger than just our local issue: Sprouts is a big-box, union-busting corporate chain supermarket that perpetuates industrial agricultural and food system injustices. Their greenwashed use of the “Farmer’s Market” term and imagery is an assault on our efforts to create a just local food system. Read more here.

Campus Actions
With the leadership of Students for Engaged and Active Learning, there is now a strong student movement for a community-led research and education center at the Gill Tract. They have met with campus administrators all the way to the Chancellor, the Regents, and UC President Napolitano, all to no avail. Yesterday, they organized a cafe shut down for the UC statewide 96 Hours of Action Against Tuition Hikes and Police Violence to “fight back against the privatization of our land, labor, lives, and learning.”

Last night, Occupy the Farm and Students for Engaged and Active Learning joined together tonight to lovingly interrupt Raj Patel’s lecture for the Edible Education class to give the update about what is happening now at the farm. ‪#‎GillTractDefense‬

Students and community members are continuing to build towards the spring UC Regent’s meeting on March 17th-19th. More information to come.

What can you do?
If we want to protect this land from corporate development, and create the community-led center for Agroecology and Food Justice, then we need to act now to defend this land.

  1. Please join Occupy the Farm for a #GillTractDefense Rally and Press Conference at the Sprouts “Farmer’s Market” in Walnut Creek on March 14th at 1pm.
  2. Call and Email Ted Frumkin, Sprouts’ Senior Vice President of BusinessDevelopment: tedfrumkin@sprouts.com; 602-682-1556
    • Tell him “DON’T BUILD YOUR NEW STORE ON THE GILL TRACT!”  Make sure they know that if they continue with their plans to pave overpublic farmland you will not shop at any of their stores, or invest in their stock, and will encourage others to join you in the boycott!
    • For more decision-makers at Sprouts and more information about the campaign, please see: http://www.boycottsprouts.com/#!contact/c1z0x
  3. Join our social media campaign. Take a photo of yourself with your definition of a farmer’s market, and tweet it to @sproutsfm Don’t pave over the Gill Tract for your greenwashed, union-busting supermarket! #BoycottSprouts#GillTractDefense #OccupyTheFarm
  4. Join the Emergency Bulldozer Response Team. We are trying to remain proactive in our strategy and response, but we are aware that the bulldozers may come any day to scrape away the top soil and lay concrete. We are preparing for active resistance on the land.

 

 

 

 

 

Boycott Sprouts!

BoycottSprouts

In response to community outcry in 2012, Whole Foods pulled out of the Gill Tract development project and instead built in an empty building 2 blocks away.  The UC is trying replacing them with a new anchor tenant: Sprout’s “Farmers Market”.  Sprouts calls itself a farmer’s market, but is actually a union-busting, big box chain store that ships in produce from all over the globe.  If a market is to be built at the Gill Tract, we want a real farmer’s market that is builds toward a more resilient local economy.

Help us put pressure on Sprouts to pull out from the Gill Tract! Join us in letting them know that we see through their greenwashing and demand better.

1) Join us in putting pressure on Sprouts to pull out from the Gill Tract! Come out to the #GillTractDefense Rally and Press Conference with Occupy the Farm

March 14th at 1pm.
Sprouts “Farmer’s Market”
1530 Geary Rd
Walnut Creek, CA 94597

2) Call and Email Ted FrumkinSprouts’ Senior Vice President of Business Development

Tell him: “DON’T BUILD YOUR NEW STORE ON THE GILL TRACT!”  Make sure they know that if they continue with their plans to pave over public farmland you will not shop at any of their stores, or invest in their stock, and will encourage others to join you in the boycott.

For more decision-makers to write to at Sprouts and more information about the campaign, please see: http://www.boycottsprouts.com/#!contact/c1z0x

3) Join our social media campaign. Take a photo of yourself with your definition of a farmer’s market, and tweet it to @sproutsfm Don’t pave over the Gill Tract for your greenwashed, union-busting supermarket! #BoycottSprouts #GillTractDefense #OccupyTheFarm


At Eco Farm, we asked real farmer’s to define what a farmer’s market means to them. Please write your own and share them on social media.
Jose and Maria Cardenas, farmers, Ceres, CA
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Joy Moore, farmer and educator, Berkeley, CA
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Hyson Epstein, Farmer, Pacific Grove, CA

UC Cuts Down 60 Trees at the Gill Tract

This morning, 60 trees were cut down on the southern acreage of the Gill Tract.

The UC’s move to begin clearing the way for their proposed housing and shopping complex came as a shock to farmers and neighbors, as there is an active lawsuit on appeal in the county courts, contesting the development’s detrimental environmental impact.

Knowing the community would mobilize to defend the trees, the UC hired a huge demolition team, cutting down the trees with lightening speed. The last trees were in the process of being destroyed at 9am, as farm supporters arrived.

In response, students and community rallied outside the office of Capital Projects, the department in charge of property development, and we will be at the land tonight to hold space for grieving the loss of the historic arboretum, and discussing next steps.

HOW TO HELP NOW:

1. Join us for a community discussion at 5pm today at the Gill Tract Farm, on the corner of San Pablo & Marin Ave, Albany CA

2. Sign up for our email list and emergency alerts

3. Share (facebook) and retweet (twitter) our social media. #GilltractDefense,

#OccupyTheFarm.

In soil we trust,

Gill Tract Farmers

Gill Tract Trees Cut Down

 

Please sign THIS Petition to save the Gill Tract Farm!

Occupy The Farm is urging all our supporters to SIGN THE SEAL PETITION.  It is originated by Students for Engaged and Active Learning (SEAL), and calls on the 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.  This design process would produce an alternative plan encompassing all of the remaining undeveloped land on the Gill Tract, one that better serves student and community needs.  For questions, or to contact delegates for media statements, please email seal.students@gmail.com.

WE’RE CELEBRATING THE FILM PREMIER & INVITING NEW ORGANIZING!

Press Contacts:
Lesley Haddock – (707)293-3253 – lesley.lives@gmail.com
Matthew McHale – 562-754-8756 – matthewmchale@outlook.com

Occupy the Farm is very excited about the premiere of the Occupy the Farm film, opening this Friday at the UA7 cinema in Berkeley. The film depicts the vibrancy of the community that occupied the Gill Tract in 2012, creating an agricultural hub and challenging the University of California’s commercial development plan.

“This film documents the beginning of a new phase of struggle for public access to the Gill Tract,” said Lesley Haddock, an organizer with Occupy the Farm. “We hope that this premiere will inspire more people in our community to join the effort to stop this development, and for others to take action in their own neighborhoods to reclaim land for public benefit.”

It has been two-and-a-half years since farmers and community members, frustrated by decades of unproductive negotiations with the University around preserving this land first flooded onto the Gill Tract to break ground on a public urban farm, which produced several tons of organic vegetables that were distributed for free around the East Bay.

After repeated occupations of the land, each violently evicted by police, the College of Natural Resources has started a community-oriented farm project on part of the north field of the Gill Tract, but has remained uninvolved in the struggle to protect the south side of the land from development.

The UC Gill Tract Community Farm is open to the public most days a week, and members of Occupy the Farm are active in its daily stewardship and governance, along with other neighbors, students, faculty, and researchers. However, most of the north field is still being used for corn genetics research. The south field remains under the control of Capital Projects, and is in imminent threat of commercial development into a shopping center and high-end senior housing complex.

Occupy the Farm continues to organize against the development, building toward a twenty-acre public farm that can serve as a agroecological research hub that can help to transition us away from the industrial food system that threatens our health and ecosystems and towards smaller-scale, localized farming systems.

We invite you to get involved with organizing, by writing to us at occupyfarm@gmail.com

We will be present for Q&A at many of the screenings throughout the week, particularly the evening showings. Opening night, we invite you to the premiere after-party at the PLACE for Sustainable Living, 1121 64th St, Oakland. The film will be showing at 12 pm, 2:20 pm, 4:50 pm, 7 pm, and 9:30 pm through November 13th.

Occupy the Farm Film Premier!

Occupy the Farm - Film PosterThe feature length documentary Occupy the Farm, premieres this Friday in Berkeley!

Join the farmers at the premier, Friday, November 7th at 7 pm. After the film there will be a Q&A with the filmmaker, Todd Darling, and several of the farmers.

The film is playing in Berkeley, November 7–13 at
UA Berkeley 7 Cinema –
2274 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

After the premiere we’ll be having an after party at a PLACE for Sustainable Living in Oakland. Show your ticket at the door for entry!

The film will also be showing in
New York – Nov 14–20
Pasadena – Nov 21–27