Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Review: Farm City by Novella Carpenter

I devoured this book in a matter of days!  Novella Carpenter's "Farm City:  The Education of an Urban Farmer" is just that.  Moving to Oakland's Ghost Town neighborhood (and I use the term "neighborhood" loosely, Novella set up shop in a vacant lot, planting trees, veggies, setting up a chicken coop and harboring a bee hive.  This alone I find impressive, but not satisfied she goes on to raise (and butcher and consume) ducks, turkeys, rabbits and yes... pigs.  
The writing style seems conversational and as a result very personal.  I especially enjoy that she doesn't necessarily find what she does very unusual.  Sure, loose turkeys on MLK is pretty darn unexpected, but her efforts feel humble and she does not try to place herself on a pedestal.  "Anyone can do this if you're ready for this lifestyle," she seems to say.  Yet she is not selling an idea, either.
It seems she learns more about people and the environment around her than farming itself as she negotiates vegetable thieves, high-end chefs, and neighborhood children discovering farm animals in person for the first time.
While I'm not quite to the point of taking a pair of pruning shears to a duck's head, I am feeling more motivated to get my vegetable garden in gear for winter greens and root vegetables.  I'm even contemplating bees.  .  .  and eventually chickens.  It's like Novella decides early on- chickens are the gateway drugs of farm animals!


  1. It was fascinating. Except for the killing bit!

  2. As a vegetarian I'd skip the garden shears. But the book sounds interesting. Found you through Blotanical incidentally.

  3. I understand not having interests in eating your own animals if you abstain for meat, but I found the book's main theme of developing a relationship with the orgins of food compelling. Just as I love my own tomatoes, I think I'd appreciate the work and dedication required by raising animals, especially the next time I'd see aisles of styrofoam trays at the supermarket! Thanks for commenting, ladies!

  4. Thanks for letting me read it! Now if only I was as good at returning books I've borrowed as I was about reviewing them...