Boycott Driscoll’s Protest at Watsonville Strawberry Festival

A banner declaring “No More Blood Berries” hung from the most iconic buildings in downtown Watsonville, which hover over the Strawberry Festival and stand as subtle reminders of the apple industry in the Pájaro Valley.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets speaks with five people about the Driscoll’s Boycott in Strawberry Lane at the Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 6, 2016. ]

On August 6 and 7, 2016, local activists engaged thousands of people at the 22nd Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival to raise awareness about the Driscoll’s Boycott and the harsh realities of farmworkers who pick the precious berries. The Boycott Driscoll’s movement is led by, and in solidarity with, farmworkers in San Quintín, México and Washington state fighting for union contracts.

Demonstrators, including the Watsonville Brown Berets, handed out thousands of flyers for Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent union formed by farmworkers in Washington state in July 2013. FUJ has over 450 members and holds elections as well as democratically run business meetings. FUJ maintains a website, Boycott Sakuma Berries, which is the best resource online for information in English about the ongoing labor struggle.

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New Leaf Community Markets in Felton Honors Driscoll’s Boycott

New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, California takes a righteous step in support of the farmworkers who grow our food. In addition to pulling Driscoll’s berries from their shelves, the market is displaying a letter with an overview of the boycott.

[ New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, CA honors the boycott of Driscoll’s berries. Photos by Michael Gasser (@mapinduzi21k). May 3, 2016. Collage by Bradley Allen. ]

New Leaf Community Markets, purchased by New Seasons Market in 2013, is a grocery chain founded in Santa Cruz, California in 1985. The market currently has seven locations, and an Aptos store is expected to open in August 2017.

On May 2, 2016, New Leaf Community Markets in Felton, which operates with a franchise agreement under separate ownership, confirmed that they are not selling Driscoll’s berries. New Leaf Community Markets in Boulder Creek operates under separate ownership as well.

This comes as exciting news for the boycott Driscoll’s movement. New Leaf Community Markets in Felton is believed to be the first grocery store in Santa Cruz County to remove Driscoll’s berries from their shelves in honor of the boycott.

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May Day March for Beach Flats Garden and Boycott Driscoll’s

The march drew connections between saving the local Beach Flats Community Garden and the global boycott of Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County.

[ Boycott Driscoll’s activists and supporters of the Beach Flats Community Garden demonstrate at New Leaf Community Market in downtown Santa Cruz to call upon the grocery chain to stop selling Driscoll’s berries. May 1, 2016. ]

In the spirit of International Workers Day, and in solidarity with the Beach Flats Community Garden and the boycott Driscoll’s movement led by indigenous farmworkers, demonstrators in Santa Cruz, California marched on May 1, 2016 from City Hall to New Leaf Community Market and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The spirited march drew connections between saving the treasured local garden and boycotting Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County since 1904.

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Beach Flats Gardeners Demand City Council Keep Their Promise

The City of Santa Cruz promised to seek acquisition of the land for a permanent garden, instead they bulldozed 40% of the garden to facilitate Seaside Company’s agenda.

[ Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (left) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago, lead the march up Pacific Avenue and they cross Laurel Street in downtown Santa Cruz. April 26, 2016. ]

Is the City of Santa Cruz Really Committed to the Beach Flats Neighborhood?

Gardeners and Supporters March on City Hall Demanding that Council Follow Through With Previous Commitment to Purchase Land

On April 26 the Santa Cruz City Council gave their six-month report on the progress of the City’s efforts to acquire the property containing the Beach Flats Community Garden. At the meeting, the City Council agreed to a three year lease for the garden. However Josh Brahinsky of the Beach Flats Garden Coalition points out, “The lease only covers 60% of the previous garden, and has a 60 day escape clause for Seaside Company, and thus does not provide long-term security for the garden.”

Students at UC Santa Cruz advocating for the gardeners and the garden declare, “It is time to turn up the heat! The city broke their agreements about protecting the garden, both in terms of space promised, and a bunch of trees and cactus that were demolished during Spring Break.”

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Driscoll’s Runs Away At Watsonville Earth Day

People started speaking about the Driscoll’s boycott, so Driscoll’s got rid of their strawberries and quickly left Watsonville Earth Day.

[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets holds a boycott Driscoll’s flyer in front of the Driscoll’s booth at Watsonville Earth Day. April 24, 2016. ]

As the top sponsor of Watsonville’s 14th Annual Earth Day / Day of the Child Festival, the philanthropy specialists at Driscoll’s were hopeful that April 24, 2016 would be a great day at Ramsay Park for promoting their brand. The event was advertised as a “free … local celebration of youth, environment and community … featuring live entertainment, low cost food, jump houses and fun activities with over 50 organizations.” When a few people started speaking about the international boycott of Driscoll’s and handing out flyers, the Driscoll’s representatives quickly dismantled their event booth and got rid of their strawberries as fast as they could. Driscoll’s packed everything up and left before three o’clock even though more than an hour remained of the four hour promotional event.

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Hundreds March for Beach Flats Community Garden

Gardeners seek a creative solution to preserve twenty five years of cultivating food and culture in the heart of the Santa Cruz Beach Flats.

[ Photo: Marciano “Chango” Cruz (left) is a founder of the Beach Flats Community Garden. Cruz marches with Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (center) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago. ]

On February 9, hundreds of people marched through downtown Santa Cruz from the Beach Flats Community Garden to the city council meeting. Gardeners, along with a large coalition of supporters, are seeking a creative solution to preserve twenty five years of cultivating food and culture in the heart of the Beach Flats.

Over the past year, the gardeners have asked for community support, and when 4,000 people signed a petition and 200 people showed up to a city council meeting last fall, the city agreed to attempt to negotiate a sale with the owners of the property, Seaside Company, who also own the Beach Boardwalk and much of the rest of the Beach Flats neighborhood.

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March Against Monsanto in Santa Cruz

Millions of people around the world united to March Against Monsanto, calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Kelly L. Derricks started March Against Monsanto’s Agent Orange awareness program to educate people on Agent Orange, the deadly chemical weapon that Monsanto was the largest manufacturer of during the Vietnam War era. Derricks states, “If we fail to realize that March Against Monsanto is not about GMOs alone, then we have already lost the battle.”

On Saturday, May 24, people all around the world united, including in Santa Cruz, California, to March Against Monsanto, calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other harmful agro-chemicals. Marches occurred on six continents, in 52 countries, with events in over 400 cities. In the USA, demonstrations were held in 47 states.

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