[ 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.
Flyers for the May Day demonstration explain:
In Santa Cruz, the jardíneros of the Beach Flats Community Garden are at risk of losing long-cultivated subsistence farming space due to the profit-motivated actions of the Seaside (Boardwalk) Company.
In Washington and Baja California, Mesoamerican Indigenous farmworkers have organized independent unions, calling for an international boycott of Santa Cruz County based Driscoll’s Berries. As they fight to end poverty wages, slave-like working and living conditions, child labor and violent repression of their movement, they also envision a reorganization of food systems based upon workers cooperatives, sustainable relationships with land, and economies based on needs rather than profit.
Let’s join together to express our solidarity with these critical struggles, alongside our own dreams for a different kind of world not based on capitalist exploitation.
New Leaf Community Market & Driscoll’s
— Bradley Allen (@BradleySA) May 2, 2016
New Leaf Community Market, purchased by New Seasons Market in 2013, is a grocery chain founded in Santa Cruz in 1985. It was the first grocer in California, and second in the world, to achieve a B Corporation certification. The website for Certified B Corporations states, “B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.”
On May 2, New Leaf Community Market in Felton, which operates with a franchise agreement under separate ownership, confirmed that they are not selling Driscoll’s berries. This is exciting news for the boycott Driscoll’s movement, as a grocer in Santa Cruz County is believed to be the first in California to remove Driscoll’s berries from their market in honor of the boycott.
The remaining New Leaf Community Market locations, including the store on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, continue to sell Driscoll’s berries despite requests from their customers to respect the international boycott. On May 1, a large group of demonstrators, many of whom are also customers, entered the store with signs and chants calling for the boycott of Driscoll’s and “no more blood berries.” A letter was given to an employee asking that the store honor the boycott and not sell Driscoll’s berries.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk & Beach Flats Community Garden
The group proceeded along Soquel Avenue and down Ocean Street to reach the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Founded in 1907, it is California’s oldest surviving amusement park and one of the few seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States. The Beach Boardwalk is privately owned by the Seaside Company, which also owns the land that contains the Beach Flats Community Garden and many other properties in Santa Cruz.
For 23 years, the Beach Flats Community Garden has thrived as a hub for sustainable urban farming, skill-sharing, cultural preservation and community building. Seaside Company is poised to take-over 10,000 sq. feet of the garden, comprising half of the area that the gardeners have been tending for over 20 years. The neighborhood and gardeners who depend on the vegetables, fruits, and herbs produced by this amazing garden to feed their families, cannot afford this loss.
Supporters of the Garden distributed flyers during all points of the march, including inside New Leaf Market, to drivers and pedestrians along Pacific Avenue, passing motorists on Ocean and Beach Streets, and to employees and attendees of the Beach Boardwalk. The flyer calls upon people to:
Please show your support today for the preservation of the Beach Flats Community Garden by writing or calling the Seaside Company and asking that they sell the entire 26,000 square feet of the garden to the City of Santa Cruz at fair market value for a permanent garden.