Ryan Geller 
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Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

Check this out Steven, This is the summary of a proposal by Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture from February 1997. That’s 16 years ago by my count.

BACUA, a coalition of more than 30 non-profits and community organizations in the Bay Area, proposes that the University of California enter into a university/community partnership in order to create the world's first university center on sustainable urban agriculture and food systems. The purposes of the Center would be to promote research, education, extension and outreach on the various social, environmental, economic and ecological dimensions of urban farming and sustainable food systems. The expansion of urban agriculture and alternative food systems is a worldwide phenomenon that has caught the attention of policy makers, activists and funders as a new response to issues of food security, economic development, poverty alleviation, urban blight, waste recycling and environmental preservation. The proposed Center would be located at the Gill Tract in Albany and would benefit the university community as well as a diverse array of constituencies in the Bay Area, California, the U.S., and internationally.

This idea is even better today than it was 16 years ago. Even the UN is talking about these ideas today:

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. - See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.SfyjLZ7y.kAdZYlZT.dpuf

Big changes are on the horizon Steve. It's time to think beyond economics and realize that transformation to sustainable infrastructure is about human survival.

3 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Geller on 12/22/2013 at 6:35 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

There are many small family farmers who have been pushed of their land because big ag is able to produce food at extremely cheap prices. Big ag can profit from these extremely cheap prices because they are able to pay extremely low wages to their workers, they are able to externalize the cost of the environmental destruction they cause with their poor practices, they are able to cut corners on quality control because regulatory agencies are unable or unwilling to enforce existing food safety laws. In many cases big ag organizations are able to write the laws that suit them because of their political contributions, undemocratic lobbying practices, and massive campaign spending against popular propositions like California's 37, GMO labeling. Big Ag is also rife with direct government subsidies that encourage the industries' “worst practices”.

Farming and gardening is very popular among young and old, there are many people in this community who have long been denied access to land and would be overjoyed to farm on the Gill tract. Young people are looking for engaging careers with meaningful social and environmental benefits. Rebuilding our agriculture infrastructure into a sustainable, ecological and socially just food system can provide engaging inspiring careers in a variety of fields. And, yes, there is a catch: we have to pay these would be farmers, scientists, engineers, ecologists and health care professionals fairly.

Relying on migrant labor to produce our food at slave wages is morally reprehensible. The people that are now slaving on our corporate farms are refugees of the terrible economic policies that have been imposed by the United States on Central and South American countries. From banana republics of Del Monte, Dole, and United Fruit to the WTO's NAFTA, American corporations are still doing the same thing: destabilizing the economies of third world nations in order to produce an influx refugees who have no other option but to work for slave wages. A new sustainable food system could pay agricultural workers around the world fairly, it could provide exciting, engaging and socially just careers, and it is also the key to resolving our nations health problems.

A network of local urban farms can indeed reduce or completely eliminate the carbon emissions from food transport at least in comparison to say, barging food from China! Organic and permaculture methods can eliminate the use of petroleum dependent fertilization techniques which, by the way, are responsible for the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and are now causing dangerously high nitrogen levels in the drinking water of families in California's central valley.

Who Pays for this new sustainable food system? I guess we could ask this question about every environmental and social problem that we are facing right now. Who is going to pay to repair our devastated forests so that in 100 years they begin to absorb carbon from the atmosphere at rates that can reverse the current skyrocketing ppm? Who is going to pay to clean up the pacific gyer, you know that island of plastic the size of Texas? Who is going to pay for restoring our oceans' fish populations? Who is going to pay to clean up the oil spills in the Niger Delta? Who is going to pay for the cancer epidemic we are facing because of corporate pollution and super-disasters like Fukushima? Who is going to pay for the damage caused by the ever increasing severe weather and climate instability?

Well, thats a good question.

The answer to that question is the exact answer that corporations and industrialized nations are trying to keep from being expressed at every hoax climate conference they can produce. That answer is the concept of climate debt or ecological reparations. It means that the industrialized nations that have produced most of the human caused excess carbon in our atmosphere that is the cause of global climate instability should pay for the destruction caused by that instability. Simple enough right, big polluters pay for the big destruction they cause. So that's the answer to who pays on the international level, it's us, industrialized nations, the ones that caused the problem in the first place. On the national level we can just pass those costs for damages right on to the corporations that profited from causing that damage. So, yes, yes, lucky that corporate profits are up this year because those tax dodgers can pay the fair wages of the workers at the Gill Ecological Agricultural Center and their health care (which they probably won't need because they will have healthy food). And while we are at it the corporations that have been making obscene profits from environmental destruction and labor abuse can also pay workers a fair wage to clean up and restore the devastated ecosystems around the globe. This is the concept of a restoration economy. An economy where workers get paid well to maintain the ecological systems that allow for human survival on this planet. How's that for an economic model?

1 like, 6 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Geller on 12/19/2013 at 8:54 PM

Re: “An Urban Farm Collaborative Grows in Albany

This is the post carbon era. Industrial agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for transportation and soil fertility. This is a significant problem for global food security. Industrial food safety is also at an all time low because of corporate interference with regulatory agencies and legislation. Labor abuses in which workers toil in unsafe conditions for wages far below the poverty line are commonplace. Extreme and obscene Animal mistreatment is the industry standard. Corporations virulently attack press and activist organizations that attempt to expose the horror of their cruelty.

The development of a sane, sustainable and decentralized food system is long over-due. The real tragedy here is that our institutions of higher learning, in this case the UC, have been privatized and can only produce proprietary schemes to generate corporate profit rather than serving the public good. Universities and intellectual institutions need to fall in line with the mainstream global scientific community and devote the bulk of their resources toward emergency response to the climate crisis.

This article portrays the UC as "coming to the table" with activists and community members but in the context of global climate instability what they are actually offering is woefully insufficient.

Volunteer community activists across the nation are rolling up their sleeves to build a functional agriculture infrastructure. These visionary community groups are underfunded despite the fact that they are using practical, scientifically proven techniques to deal with real world problems. The corporations that the UC panders to, like Monsanto and Cargill, are not interested in this long term view because they cannot extract profit from a decentralized, sustainable food system. The UC and the city of Albany are missing an important opportunity to join with community activists and take a significant leadership role in responding to the global climate crisis.

Now is the time to help climate and social justice activists develop a network of community and family farms that will be a lifeline for current and future generations. Contact the University of California board of regents and tell them to devote the entire Gill Tract to a community led ecological agriculture center that is open to the public for free. Volunteer with Occupy the Farm or the Albany Farm Alliance.

1 like, 7 dislikes
Posted by Ryan Geller on 12/19/2013 at 3:16 PM

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