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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City Allows Hyatt to Cut Down 110-Year-Old Heritage Tree

The healthy 110-year-old tree near the sidewalk at 407 Broadway in Santa Cruz is a Red Horse Chestnut, and slated to be cut down for a Hyatt Place Hotel.

Updated on May 13, 2015: “Heritage Tree” removed from City of Santa Cruz website

The healthy 110-year-old tree close to the sidewalk at 407 Broadway in Santa Cruz is a Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus carnea). Wayne Ferrebee, an artist and writer who currently lives in Brooklyn, explains that “the red horse chestnut tree is not a chestnut tree at all; it’s a cultivar between Aesculus hippocastanum, the common horse chestnut tree of Europe, and Aesculus pavia, the red buckeye of the American south.”

It is a designated Heritage Tree in the city of Santa Cruz, and featured on the city’s heritage tree brochure which was distributed by Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation on April 19, 2014 to commemorate Earth Day in San Lorenzo Park. Gillian Greensite of Save Our Big Trees states that it is the oldest of only three red horse chestnut trees in the city.

The Planning Commission and Santa Cruz City Council have given the Hyatt Corporation a green light to cut the tree down and build a four-story Hyatt Place Hotel.

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China Flat to Simi Peak with My Dad

A hike to China Flat and Simi Peak with my dad. It was a beautiful day, and the flowers were blooming!

My Dad and I went on another great hike! This time we went to China Flat and Simi Peak, which is the highest peak (2,043 ft) in the Simi Hills. April 9, 2014 was a beautiful day, and the wildflowers were blooming!

On April 11, I spoke with two representatives of the National Park Service for clarification on the Simi Hills, Simi Peak, and China Flat regarding their inclusion in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). Kate Kuykendall, the Public Affairs Officer for the National Park Service’s SMMNRA, said that it was a complicated answer. Kuykendall explained that the Simi Hills are not considered part of the Santa Monica Mountains, but are part of the “Santa Monica Mountains Ecological Zone”, and portions of the Simi Hills are within the SMMNRA.

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