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Activists Occupying SF Hayes Valley Farm Turn Back Tree-Cutters, Vow To Stay

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Activists occupying the former site of Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco said they locked out workers sent to cut trees down Friday morning and that they plan a live music event and neighborhood barbecue this weekend.

The "Liberate the Land" protestors entered the site at Fell and Laguna streets on Saturday, a day after proprietors of the farm vacated the land. The protesters dubbed the space "Gezi Gardens" after a park in Istanbul that has been the subject of recent protests.

The group said Friday that it has built six tree-sitting platforms on the site, planted gardens, served meals, organized workshops and activities and built a village "to demonstrate ecological living in the city."

Workers sent to cut down trees on the site were locked out around 8 a.m. Friday, the protestors said.

Protestors said Thursday that they had been served with a notice to vacate the land by San Francisco police. A San Francisco police spokesman denied that officers had served any notices to the site and said police were not on the scene as of Friday morning.

Hayes Valley Farm had operated under a temporary interim use agreement, in which the city in January 2010.

But the land, which the city sold to developers Avalon Bay and Build Inc., was always slated for development. A 182-unit housing project is slated to start construction later this year.

The occupation does not involve Hayes Valley Farm organizers, who have said that the farm's resources were distributed to a number of legacy projects throughout San Francisco, including The Bee Farm, Bloom Justice, 49 Farms, BRANCH/Youth Education, Please Touch Community Garden, The Potrero Hill Learning Garden, Beecology and Urban Commons SF.

According to the Hayes Valley Farm website, as many as 20,000 volunteers worked on the 2.2-acre farm during its time in San Francisco and community events large and small were common at the location, including yoga and holiday celebrations.

Activists said they planned a barbecue with live music, workshops and a neighborhood meeting Saturday, with music starting as early as 10 a.m. and the barbecue around noon.

A neighborhood meeting at 3 p.m. Saturday will "open a dialogue about preserving this open green space and potentially turning it into a commons for the people of San Francisco," and include a "teach-in" about the Gezi Park protests in Turkey, the activists said in a statement.


(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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