One man takes stand on access to Pomona College Organic Farm (updated)

Long-time Claremont resident Michael Keenan was arrested last Thursday afternoon after trespassing on the Pomona College Organic Farm.

Mr. Keenan staged the arrest because of what he sees as the college’s unfriendly attitude towards Claremont community members wanting to help out with the farm.  The colleges have cracked down on who gains entrance to the farm over the past several years because of problems with crime and safety.

An avid supporter and volunteer at the farm for years, Mr. Keenan conducted the protest to take a stand against what he sees as a “takeover” by the Environmental Analysis department, who now manages the 2.5 acre facilities.

“The farm rule was always ‘those who tote the hoe get to cut the mustard,’ and that’s not what it is now,” Mr. Keenan said.  “There’s no reason people in the community can’t go to the farm and be a volunteer and help implement the city’s plan for sustainability.”

Campus Safety contacted the Claremont Police Department at around 4 p.m., discovering Mr. Keenan on the farm property reading a book without a proper pass. Entrance into the farm facilities requires proper Farm I.D., which is only available to Claremont College students, according to Professor Richard Hazlett, head of the Environmental Analysis program.

Despite Mr. Keenan’s feelings of “being denied fair access,” Mr. Hazlett says the farm has always been for the use of the Claremont Colleges students.

“It wasn’t meant to be open to the public like a community garden,” Mr. Hazlett said. “There was a time in the early years where community members played a really active role, and at present that membership is still encouraged, but the primary function is to provide a service for the students.”

Complete story in our next edition.

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