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'Occupy the Farm' illustrates Berkeley's battle with farmers

Todd Darling's 'Occupy the Farm' doc shows activists' 2012 battle to save land from development in Berkley

The Occupy movement has been well documented, but the activists in Todd Darling's satisfying "Occupy the Farm" took a different approach to their 2012 battle to save a tract of land from commercial development.

When UC Berkeley revealed plans to turn the site of what had been an agricultural center in Northern California into a mixed-use complex anchored by a Whole Foods Market, about 200 urban farmers descended on the property.

They had more than encamping in mind: They showed up prepared to work the fallow land, eventually planting 16,000 seedlings on land that they said was originally intended to be stewarded by the surrounding communities.

Naturally, the guerrilla agriculture didn't sit well with UC officials, who eventually called in riot police to deal with the trespassers.

Darling's documentary is garden-variety filmmaking, but it does an effective job in illustrating how years of fiscal crises have forced academia and industry to forge alliances that once would have been considered unlikely.

And witnessing the fruits (and vegetables) of the Occupy 2.0 activists' labors — 1.5 tons of it — provides some empowering food for thought.

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"Occupy the Farm"

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: Regal L.A. Live Stadium 14.

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