The Last Day of UC Berkeley’s Earth Week

Daily Tip: stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet today!

As Earth week draws to a close, try to remember that the tips we focused on this week can apply to your every day life, if you choose to adopt new habits. Go vegetarian once a week. Turn the sink off when you brush your teeth. Take your electronics out of the outlets when you’re not using them. Be creative- look for those little ways you can make a difference, even when it is not Earth day. As I am sure you have heard before, little differences add up.

Today’s last Earth week event started off early (for college students, at least) at 10 o’clock sharp on the Gill Tract Community Farm. The neighborhood gathered to work on ongoing projects, learn some new farming skills, and turnip the beet of local musicians, such as Mano Masa and Oakmind who made the day all the more lively.

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Along the outskirts of the plots of farm land, local students, presenters, and educators sat at tables, ready to talk to any interested passerby. “Mapping our Urban Farms” and the “Beginning Farmer and Rancher’s Program” were two popular stops, and the Queer Ecologies Project created a safe space for people to talk, enjoy a cup of tea, and create a piece of art.

After a welcome ceremony, Gill Tract offered a plethora of workshops beginning at 1 o’clock. Rachel Kaplan and Delia Carrol lectured on “Herbalism, Intuition, and a Simple Cup of Tea”. Next, Wanda Stewart presented “Collard Greens and Community”. And in the children’s garden, Jennifer Uphoff led an activity called “Young Foragers – Rediscover the 6 parts of a plant with our own hands, eyes, and taste buds”.

Flyers advocating for the protection of the Gill Tract Farm, which is steadily losing land.

At 2 o’clock, Michelle Lee presented “Working the Roots: Stories of Traditional Healing and Healthy Living in the Black American South”. Bonnie Lockhart led a musical workshop in the children’s garden, and Rob Bennaton led a lesson on “Improving your Soil Quality for the Urban Food Grower”. Not only that, but students were also given the opportunity to present their research. The two presentations included “The People’s Farm: Visualizing the Future Potential of UC Berkeley’s Gill Tract as an Agroecological Living Laboratory” and “Program Plan for the Center for the Restoration of Indigenous Foodways”.

Screen shot 2016-04-25 at 12.29.30 AMAll of the workshops successfully encouraged the community to appreciate the food that they themselves were responsible for growing. The workshops also introduced concepts such as the healing effects of gardening (both physical and social), and got the neighborhood to work and learn together. It appears that the Gill Tract Community Farm is attempting to be something much more than a source of healthy food, however important that may be. The Gill Tract Farm inspires thought about the importance of food and community and pushes its members not only to offer their unique viewpoints, but also to take what they have learned and apply it in their daily lives.

Next on the list of events at Gill Tract, fresh veggies were harvested while local hip hop artist Orca Raptilon took the stage.

eggviesyum

A theme that the Gill Tract farm hoped to present throughout the day, and a community conversation at the end of the festival, was how healing can be an act of resistance. It encouraged each member to think about how a healing community can be formed, how it can succeed, and how it can be a pathway to healing both ourselves and our planet.

“To heal ourselves we must heal our planet, and to heal our planet, we must heal ourselves” – Bobby McLeod

If you would like to be a part of this conversation, check out the Gill Tract Community Farm on San Pablo Avenue in Albany, or visit one of the community gardens a little closer to Berkeley. This is just one opportunity to make a small change in your life, whether that is through healthier eating choices, a consideration of how health and the environment are linked, or just a moment spent in the outdoors. Thank you all for making this a great Earth week!

Aubrey Hills

Aubrey Hills is a junior studying Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus on waste management.

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