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Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

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Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Cover

ISBN13: 9781594202216
ISBN10: 1594202214
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

If you've ever dabbled in community gardening or thought to yourself, "I could raise chickens!" then Farm City is a must read. Novella Carpenter brings heart and humor to her story of inner-city gardening.
Recommended by Beth, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Urban and rural collide in this wry, inspiring memoir of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving farm.

Novella Carpenter loves cities — the culture, the crowds, the energy. At the same time, she can't shake the fact that she is the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables. Ambivalent about repeating her parents' disastrous mistakes, yet drawn to the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Carpenter decided that it might be possible to have it both ways: a homegrown vegetable plot as well as museums, bars, concerts, and a twenty-four-hour convenience mart mere minutes away. Especially when she moved to a ramshackle house in inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door. She closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What started out as a few egg-laying chickens led to turkeys, geese, and ducks. Soon, some rabbits joined the fun, then two three-hundred-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals weren't pets; she was a farmer, not a zookeeper. Novella was raising these animals for dinner.

Novella Carpenter's corner of downtown Oakland is populated by unforgettable characters. Lana (anal spelled backward, she reminds us) runs a speakeasy across the street and refuses to hurt even a fly, let alone condone raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Bobby, the homeless man who collects cars and car parts just outside the farm, is an invaluable neighborhood concierge. The turkeys, Harold and Maude, tend to escape on a daily basis to cavort with the prostitutes hanging around just off the highway nearby. Every day on this strange and beautiful farm, urban meets rural in the most surprising ways.

For anyone who has ever grown herbs on their windowsill, tomatoes on their fire escape, or obsessed over the offerings at the local farmers' market, Carpenter's story will capture your heart. And if you've ever considered leaving it all behind to become a farmer outside the city limits, or looked at the abandoned lot next door with a gleam in your eye, consider this both a cautionary tale and a full-throated call to action.

Farm City is an unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmers' tips, and a great deal of heart. It is also a moving meditation on urban life versus the natural world and what we have given up to live the way we do.

Review:

"In this utterly enchanting book, food writer Carpenter chronicles with grace and generosity her experiences as an 'urban farmer.' With her boyfriend Bill's help, her squatter's vegetable garden in one of the worst parts of the Bay Area evolved into further adventures in bee and poultry keeping in the desire for such staples as home-harvested honey, eggs and home-raised meat. The built-in difficulties also required dealing with the expected noise and mess as well as interference both human and animal. When one turkey survived to see, so to speak, its way to the Thanksgiving table, the success spurred Carpenter to rabbitry and a monthlong plan to eat from her own garden. Consistently drawing on her Idaho ranch roots and determined even in the face of bodily danger, her ambitions led to ownership and care of a brace of pigs straight out of E.B. White. She chronicles the animals' slaughter with grace and sensitivity, their cooking and consumption with a gastronome's passion, and elegantly folds in riches like urban farming history. Her way with narrative and details, like the oddly poetic names of chicken and watermelon breeds, gives her memoir an Annie Dillard lyricism, but it's the juxtaposition of the farming life with inner-city grit that elevates it to the realm of the magical. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious." Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food

Synopsis:

An unforgettably charming memoir, Farm City is full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer's tips, and a great deal of heart. When Novella Carpenter — captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency — moved to inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage- strewn abandoned lot next door to her house, she closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes and a chicken coop. The story of how her urban farm grew from a few chickens to one populated with turkeys, geese, rabbits, ducks, and two three-hundred-pound pigs will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever considered leaving the city behind for a more natural lifestyle.

Synopsis:

Dee Williamsand#8217;s life changed in an instant, with a near-death experience in the aisle of her local grocery store. Diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty-one, she was all too suddenly reminded that life is short, time is precious, and she wanted to be spending hers with the people and things she truly loved. That included the beautiful sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest she had painstakingly restoredand#151;but, increasingly, it did not include the mortgage payments, constant repairs, and general time-suck of home ownership. A new sense of clarity began to take hold: Just what was all this stuff for? Multiple extra rooms, a kitchen stocked with rarely used appliances, were things that couldnand#8217;t compare with the financial freedom and the ultimate luxuryand#151;timeand#151;that would come with downsizing.

Deciding to build an eighty-four-square-foot houseand#151;on her own, from the ground upand#151;was just the beginning of building a new life. Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her approximately ten minutes to clean the entire house. Itand#8217;s left her with more time to spend with family and friends, and given her freedom to head out for adventure at a momentand#8217;s notice, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch.

The lessons Williams learned from her and#147;ahaand#8221; moment post-trauma apply to all of us, every day, regardless of whether or not we decide to discard all our worldly belongings. Part how-to, part personal memoir, The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down, scaling back, and appreciating the truly important things in life.

Synopsis:

Urban and rural collide in this wry, inspiring memoir of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving farm

Novella Carpenter loves cities-the culture, the crowds, the energy. At the same time, she can't shake the fact that she is the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables. Ambivalent about repeating her parents' disastrous mistakes, yet drawn to the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Carpenter decided that it might be possible to have it both ways: a homegrown vegetable plot as well as museums, bars, concerts, and a twenty-four-hour convenience mart mere minutes away. Especially when she moved to a ramshackle house in inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door. She closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What started out as a few egg-laying chickens led to turkeys, geese, and ducks. Soon, some rabbits joined the fun, then two three-hundred-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals weren't pets; she was a farmer, not a zookeeper. Novella was raising these animals for dinner. Novella Carpenter's corner of downtown Oakland is populated by unforgettable characters. Lana (anal spelled backward, she reminds us) runs a speakeasy across the street and refuses to hurt even a fly, let alone condone raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Bobby, the homeless man who collects cars and car parts just outside the farm, is an invaluable neighborhood concierge. The turkeys, Harold and Maude, tend to escape on a daily basis to cavort with the prostitutes hanging around just off the highway nearby. Every day on this strange and beautiful farm, urban meets rural in the most surprising ways.

For anyone who has ever grown herbs on their windowsill, tomatoes on their fire escape, or obsessed over the offerings at the local farmers' market, Carpenter's story will capture your heart. And if you've ever considered leaving it all behind to become a farmer outside the city limits, or looked at the abandoned lot next door with a gleam in your eye, consider this both a cautionary tale and a full-throated call to action. Farm City is an unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmers' tips, and a great deal of heart. It is also a moving meditation on urban life versus the natural world and what we have given up to live the way we do.

About the Author

Novella Carpenter grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State. She went to University of Washington in Seattle where she majored in Biology and English. She later studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism for two years. She's had many odd jobs including: assassin bug handler, book editor, media projectionist, hamster oocyte collector, and most recently, journalist. Her writing has appeared in Salon.com, Saveur.com, sfgate.com (the SF Chronicle's website), and Mother Jones. She has been cultivating her farm in the city for over ten years now, and her neighbors still think she's crazy. It all started with a few chickens, then some bees, until she had a full-blown farm near downtown Oakland, where she lives today.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

Jessica Jackson, February 1, 2013 (view all comments by Jessica Jackson)
A punk-ish couple living in a poor and patchy neighborhood in Oakland.
A vacant lot turned into a community garden and farm.
A rabbit (dead) hanging from their shower rod and bees on the porch.
And dumpster dives in China Town for the pigs.
This is farm city.

Lucky we get to read about. Lucky Novella is such an awesome person and writer. Not pretentious. Totally awesome.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
nonie, January 6, 2012 (view all comments by nonie)
An interesting look at urban farming in downtown Oakland. I very much enjoyed it, and was inspired to do more with my own back yard garden.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Amy Marino, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Amy Marino)
This autobiography of the authors adventures discovering her farmer self in a (very) rough hood in Oakland is a delight. I don't know if it is for everyone, but I ate it up and learned a thing or two. Most importantly though it gave me food for thought. All puns intended.
Happy reading everyone.
PS, I am generally a fan of Oakland, used to work down the street from the farm.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 5 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202216
Subtitle:
The Education of an Urban Farmer
Author:
Carpenter, Novella
Author:
Williams, Dee
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Urban agriculture.
Subject:
Agriculture - General
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20100525
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
4 b/w illustrations
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.96x6.52x.99 in. 1.08 lbs.
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Engineering » Home Construction » Sustainable Living
History and Social Science » Americana » California
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » Profiles and Biographies

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202216 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

If you've ever dabbled in community gardening or thought to yourself, "I could raise chickens!" then Farm City is a must read. Novella Carpenter brings heart and humor to her story of inner-city gardening.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this utterly enchanting book, food writer Carpenter chronicles with grace and generosity her experiences as an 'urban farmer.' With her boyfriend Bill's help, her squatter's vegetable garden in one of the worst parts of the Bay Area evolved into further adventures in bee and poultry keeping in the desire for such staples as home-harvested honey, eggs and home-raised meat. The built-in difficulties also required dealing with the expected noise and mess as well as interference both human and animal. When one turkey survived to see, so to speak, its way to the Thanksgiving table, the success spurred Carpenter to rabbitry and a monthlong plan to eat from her own garden. Consistently drawing on her Idaho ranch roots and determined even in the face of bodily danger, her ambitions led to ownership and care of a brace of pigs straight out of E.B. White. She chronicles the animals' slaughter with grace and sensitivity, their cooking and consumption with a gastronome's passion, and elegantly folds in riches like urban farming history. Her way with narrative and details, like the oddly poetic names of chicken and watermelon breeds, gives her memoir an Annie Dillard lyricism, but it's the juxtaposition of the farming life with inner-city grit that elevates it to the realm of the magical. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious."
"Synopsis" by , An unforgettably charming memoir, Farm City is full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer's tips, and a great deal of heart. When Novella Carpenter — captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency — moved to inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage- strewn abandoned lot next door to her house, she closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes and a chicken coop. The story of how her urban farm grew from a few chickens to one populated with turkeys, geese, rabbits, ducks, and two three-hundred-pound pigs will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever considered leaving the city behind for a more natural lifestyle.
"Synopsis" by ,
Dee Williamsand#8217;s life changed in an instant, with a near-death experience in the aisle of her local grocery store. Diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty-one, she was all too suddenly reminded that life is short, time is precious, and she wanted to be spending hers with the people and things she truly loved. That included the beautiful sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest she had painstakingly restoredand#151;but, increasingly, it did not include the mortgage payments, constant repairs, and general time-suck of home ownership. A new sense of clarity began to take hold: Just what was all this stuff for? Multiple extra rooms, a kitchen stocked with rarely used appliances, were things that couldnand#8217;t compare with the financial freedom and the ultimate luxuryand#151;timeand#151;that would come with downsizing.

Deciding to build an eighty-four-square-foot houseand#151;on her own, from the ground upand#151;was just the beginning of building a new life. Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her approximately ten minutes to clean the entire house. Itand#8217;s left her with more time to spend with family and friends, and given her freedom to head out for adventure at a momentand#8217;s notice, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch.

The lessons Williams learned from her and#147;ahaand#8221; moment post-trauma apply to all of us, every day, regardless of whether or not we decide to discard all our worldly belongings. Part how-to, part personal memoir, The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down, scaling back, and appreciating the truly important things in life.

"Synopsis" by ,

Urban and rural collide in this wry, inspiring memoir of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving farm

Novella Carpenter loves cities-the culture, the crowds, the energy. At the same time, she can't shake the fact that she is the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables. Ambivalent about repeating her parents' disastrous mistakes, yet drawn to the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Carpenter decided that it might be possible to have it both ways: a homegrown vegetable plot as well as museums, bars, concerts, and a twenty-four-hour convenience mart mere minutes away. Especially when she moved to a ramshackle house in inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door. She closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What started out as a few egg-laying chickens led to turkeys, geese, and ducks. Soon, some rabbits joined the fun, then two three-hundred-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals weren't pets; she was a farmer, not a zookeeper. Novella was raising these animals for dinner. Novella Carpenter's corner of downtown Oakland is populated by unforgettable characters. Lana (anal spelled backward, she reminds us) runs a speakeasy across the street and refuses to hurt even a fly, let alone condone raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Bobby, the homeless man who collects cars and car parts just outside the farm, is an invaluable neighborhood concierge. The turkeys, Harold and Maude, tend to escape on a daily basis to cavort with the prostitutes hanging around just off the highway nearby. Every day on this strange and beautiful farm, urban meets rural in the most surprising ways.

For anyone who has ever grown herbs on their windowsill, tomatoes on their fire escape, or obsessed over the offerings at the local farmers' market, Carpenter's story will capture your heart. And if you've ever considered leaving it all behind to become a farmer outside the city limits, or looked at the abandoned lot next door with a gleam in your eye, consider this both a cautionary tale and a full-throated call to action. Farm City is an unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmers' tips, and a great deal of heart. It is also a moving meditation on urban life versus the natural world and what we have given up to live the way we do.

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