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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UFW Tries to Silence Boycott Driscoll’s Activists at Cesar Chavez March

What is UFW (United Farm Workers) doing to support farmworkers fighting for justice in San Quintín, México and Washington state? Nothing.

[ FUJ member Lázaro Matamoros and Chelsea Thaw of FUJ’s boycott coordination team carry a Boycott Driscoll’s banner in the annual Cesar Chavez March in Salinas, California. April 3, 2016. Photo by Michal Garcia. ]

On Sunday, April 3, Michael Garcia and fellow Watsonville Brown Berets traveled a short distance to Salinas, California to attend the annual Cesar Chavez March and Rally presented by United Farm Workers (UFW). The Watsonville Brown Berets were joined by members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union in Burlington, Washington fighting for a union contract, and initiators of the boycott against Driscoll’s.

The Watsonville Brown Berets (WBB) and FUJ activists spoke with people assembled at Cesar Chavez Community Park and handed out flyers about the growing movement to boycott Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor. FUJ, along with tens of thousands of farmworkers in San Quintín, México, are fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from protected union activity.

Although advocating for farmworkers’ rights seems like it would be warmly welcomed by UFW, that was unfortunately not the experience for WBB and FUJ members. Garcia, born and raised in Watsonville, noticed that his friend was working the stage and asked if his group could have some time later to speak about the Driscoll’s boycott. Garcia’s friend, who was both the owner of the stage and a mariachi musician performing at the event, agreed to provide Garcia time. The stage owner, however, was then reportedly approached by UFW representatives and specifically told that UFW does not want WBB or FUJ speaking from the stage.

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Boycott Driscoll’s Outreach on Watsonville’s Main Street

Watsonville community members support the boycott against Driscoll’s, the world famous berry company headquartered in their town.

[ Emmanuel Ballesteros of the Watsonville Brown Berets, standing on the median of Main Street in Watsonville, California, holds a sign above his head declaring, “Respect the Farmworkers. Boycott Driscoll’s.” April 2, 2016. ]

Over 300 farmworker families in Burlington, Washington are currently waging a historic struggle for a union contract at Sakuma Brothers Farms. They are asking consumers to boycott Driscoll’s berries, which includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), the farmworkers’ independent union, is fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from Sakuma from protected union activity.

Lázaro Matamoros from Oaxaca, México, a farmworker at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state and a rank and file union member of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, held signs on Main Street in Watsonville on Saturday, April 2 to raise awareness in the community regarding “Driscoll’s Exploitation” from “Border to Border.” Matamoros was joined by fellow FUJ activists who are currently on a 28-day tour of the West Coast to energize a major offensive on the boycott of Driscoll’s berries, including a March 31 protest outside the company’s headquarters in Watsonville.

Pedestrians and passing motorists were very receptive to flyers handed out asking people to “Respect the families who grow your food. Don’t buy Driscoll’s.” People went out of their way to speak with demonstrators and learn more about the world famous berry company headquartered less than a mile away.

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