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Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer
     

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

4.3 28
by Novella Carpenter
 

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“One of New York Times Top 10 Books of 2009” (Dwight Garner)

"Captivating... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules

When Novella Carpenter--captivated by the idea of

Overview

“One of New York Times Top 10 Books of 2009” (Dwight Garner)

"Captivating... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules

When Novella Carpenter--captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency as the daughter of two back-to-the-earth hippies--moves to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovers a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door, she closes her eyes and pictures heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What starts out as a few egg-laying chickens leads to turkeys, geese, and ducks. And not long after, along came two 300-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals aren’t pets. Novella is raising these animals for dinner.

An unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer’s tips, and a great deal of heart, Farm City offers a beautiful mediation on what we give up to live the way we do today.

Editorial Reviews

Novella Carpenter has always been of two minds. She has always loved the density and culture of cities, but this daughter of a pair of back-to-basics hippies also feels yearnings for homegrown vegetables and the clucking noises of geese and ducks. When she moved into a dilapidated house in inner-city Oakland, she didn't despair; she began working hard to clear the garbage-strewn abandoned lot next to her house. By the time she finished, she had grown not only a quite un-urban looking vegetable plot but also spawned a populous farm, complete with pigs, bees, turkeys, chickens, and the aforementioned geese and ducks. Ten years later, Novella's neighbors still think that she's crazy, but that's because they haven't read this uplifting, can-do memoir.
Dwight Garner
Fresh, fearless and jagged around the edges, Ms. Carpenter's book…puts me in mind of Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Like those writers Ms. Carpenter is not a pampered girl or a trustafarian; in fact she has a beautifully cranky side and can drink and swear like a sailor. Like them too she is hyper-literate…And finally, like Ms. Powell and Ms. Gilbert, Ms. Carpenter is very, very funny…Farm City is filled with terrific stories.
—The New York Times
Nora Krug
Urban-agrarian tension emerges at almost every turn in this entertaining account, as Carpenter's chickens meander into neighbors' apartments (during the avian flu scare!) and her farm is threatened by various forms of the city's indigenous wildlife: opossums, guard dogs, hungry vagrants, real estate developers. Carpenter rolls with it all…
—The Washington Post
Dominique Browning
…easily the funniest, weirdest, most perversely provocative gardening book I've ever read. I couldn't put it down…[Carpenter's] tone is clear, relaxed and amiable
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
This upbeat account of raising poultry, rabbits, pigs and bees in the middle of a rundown neighborhood in Oakland, Calif., will make listeners either run out to reclaim some vacant lots or cringe at the thought that they might one day live next door to and downwind from such a menagerie. Karen White vividly individualizes the colorful locals, including Bobby (who lives in abandoned cars), the Buddhist monks across the way, the skeptical neighbors, the Chinese landlord and the random foragers who help themselves to Carpenter's bounty. Narrated with cheerful verve, White's performance will charm even those readers without the slightest inclination to get up close and personal with their future meals. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 20). (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Urban eccentricity meets rural thrift and tradition in a charming debut memoir about the author's farm in downtown Oakland. Carpenter, the progeny of two hippies whose attempt to go "back to the land" ended in near disaster, was drawn to farming yet unwilling to give up the cultural and intellectual perks of an urban environment: museums, bars, libraries, etc. Already an amateur apiarist and avid gardener, she moved with her husband from the Seattle suburbs to "Ghost Town" Oakland, attracted by its energy and diversity, undeterred by the nightly drive-bys. Of equal interest to the author was the garbage-filled abandoned lot next door. Soon, her visions of heirloom tomatoes, peach trees, fresh squash, even watermelons, became a reality. Inspired, she added a few chickens, then some ducks, geese, two turkeys, a few rabbits and two pigs. Carpenter found herself increasingly enveloped in the beautiful yet brutal circle of life that rules a farm. She gives heart-rending descriptions of her emotions when stray dogs killed one of the turkeys, but also admits that she intended to harvest the remaining bird for Thanksgiving dinner. In warm, witty prose, she describes feeding her livestock with scraps foraged from neighboring restaurants, as well as visits from local children, Vietnamese monks and eccentric neighbors, many of whom joined the author for meals and enjoyed the fruits of her labors. The special relationship between farmer and food was driven home for Carpenter when a local chef taught her traditional rural Italian techniques for harvesting every part of her pigs to create delicacies from headcheese and pork broth to prosciutto and salami. Experiencing Carpenter's trials andtribulations, readers will get an honest portrait of where meals come from and an understanding that connecting with the food chain, even in the smallest ways, can enrich the palate and the soul. A fascinating, vividly written story about city and community that will change perceptions about the local farmers market.
From the Publisher
"Easily the funniest, weirdest, most perversely provocative gardening book I've ever read. I couldn't put it down... The writing soars." --The New York Times Book Review

"Captivating... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules

"Fresh, fearless, and jagged around the edges, Ms. Carpenter's book... puts me in mind of Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love." --The New York Times

"Carpenter, with [her] humor and step-by-step clarity, make[s] it seem utterly possible to grow the kind of food you want to eat, wherever you live." --Los Angeles Times


Library Journal
★ 02/01/2014
Carpenter, the daughter of two nature-loving hippie parents, transforms a vacant lot next to her Oakland home into a farm. With amusing exploits of both the neighbors and the animals. (LJ 6/1/09)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594202216
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/11/2009
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Easily the funniest, weirdest, most perversely provocative gardening book I've ever read. I couldn't put it down... The writing soars." —The New York Times Book Review

"Captivating... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules

"Fresh, fearless, and jagged around the edges, Ms. Carpenter's book... puts me in mind of Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love." —The New York Times

"Carpenter, with [her] humor and step-by-step clarity, make[s] it seem utterly possible to grow the kind of food you want to eat, wherever you live." —Los Angeles Times


Meet the Author

NOVELLA CARPENTER grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State. She studied biology and English at the University of Washington, where she had many odd jobs, including assassin bug handler and 16-millimeter film projectionist. After moving to California, she attended UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism where she studied with Michael Pollan. Her writing has appeared on Salon.com and sfgate.com and in Mother Jones and Food and Wine. Her adventures in urban agriculture began with honeybees and a few chickens, then some turkeys, until she created an urban homestead called GhostTown Farm near downtown Oakland, where she and her boyfriend, Bill, live today. Her most recent book, The Essential Urban Farmer (co-authored with Willow Rosenthal), was published by Penguin Books in 2011.

www.novellacarpenter.com.

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Farm City 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Don Campbell More than 1 year ago
Subjects you will have to look for; everything from beekeepimg to charcuterie. A voice from my hometown that sees past the problems and makes life work. Well done!
C_Lip More than 1 year ago
This book is a very interesting insight into the world urban farming. It teaches you that farms can occur anywhere as long as the farmer is persistent. Entertaining and unique read.
RobbyBailey More than 1 year ago
As a young chef I am obsessed with the ideas of going local and growing my own things. This book made me want to be in the garden growing beautiful things in the dirt with her. You can feel the joys and the pains with Ms. Carpenter as she attempts to do the unthinkable. It is on the top of my reccomendations list and I plan to read it again, and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes funny, and sad. Thoughtfully written and very enjoyable to read. Thanks!
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If these guys can do it, anybody can!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book on vacation the summer before last and liked it so much I bought the Nook book, too. I enjoyed the writing style and subject and felt like I really got to know the author. If you like Mother Earth News or Urban Homestead magazines, you'll love this book.
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