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The Essential Urban Farmer Paperback – December 27, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Organic farming in the city is so unexpected-yet it is the surest way to rebuild the vital connection between our food and how it is grown. This lucidly written, encyclopedic volume-which contains everything from homemade fertilizer recipes to chicken coop blueprints-is the single most useful resource I know for all urban dwellers."
-Alice Waters

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118718
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Novella Carpenter has a farm on a dead-end street in the ghetto of Oakland, CA. On GhostTown Farm, she has raised vegetables, chickens, rabbits, ducks, goats, turkeys, pigs, and bees. Her work has appeared in salon.com, sfgate.com, and Food and Wine magazine. She is also a member of the Biofuel Oasis Cooperative, a biodiesel station and urban farming feed store in Berkeley, CA. Her next book, due out in February 2011 is a how-to urban farm manual, written with Willow Rosenthal of City Slicker Farms. She keeps a blog about happenings on GhostTown Farm at www.novellacarpenter.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
One of the things that I really love about this book is that it isn't just about plants. The Essential Urban Farmer provides information on a truly working farm--including bees, chickens (and other poultry), rabbits, and goats. This book addresses many issues that an urban farmer might encounter, including procuring land, dealing with contaminated environments, and choosing the proper tools and materials to build with. There are a few sample layouts included and lots of alternatives.

If you're looking for a book with big, beautiful full-color photographs, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for a wealth of information with lots of tips and how-tos to give you the garden you've always dreamed of, then you've come to the right place. There is so MUCH in this book: planting schedules, the best way to seed a variety of plants, how to choose and care for (and kill) the animals, and so much more.

This is a must have for any gardener or any family wanting to be self-sustaining. I cannot say enough great things about it!
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This is a fantastic book. Well written, good tips, tricks, and sound environmental farming/production practices... for anyone! Beyond the urban farmer, anyone with a backyard garden or even a moderate 10 to 100 acres might well learn something from the authors. Well done! I'm going to purchase several for family members.
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Format: Paperback
This book is the REAL DEAL -- Novella and Willow are REAL urban farmers. You can read about it all in Novella's Farm City, her memoir of taking a rasty vacant lot in funky ghetto West Oakland, California, and turning into a real urban farm -- with vegetables, chickens, killer eggs, rabbits, and even, eventually a pig. That book made me wonder if I could really do this kind of thing out in my sprawling backyard. Even though I dont know jack-diddly, really, about how to farm. And you know what -- this new book really tells how to do it, from how to pick land (near water, for instance, at least near a hose...), get the right to use the land, and then how to get the soil ready, how to get the right seeds, right through how to kill simple farm animals for food every now and then. It's fun to read even if you dont want to go the length, but it seems like I am going to be able to do everything I want to do in my backyard, using just this one total REAL DEAL 'how to' guide to it all. Wow!
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Format: Paperback
This is not the only book I have on this subject, but it is, so far, the best. The book is divided into three sections. The first, designing your urban farm, is filled with practical advice on finding, evaluating and planning how best to use your own urban farm site. The second section discusses growing vegetables from the ground up- literally. Choosing vegetables, soil fertility, creating garden beds, plantings seeds and saving them are just some of the topics covered in this section. Raising city animals is covered in the third section, where Carpenter and Rosenthal discuss bees, poultry, rabbit and ducks. Then come the appendices. I never thought I would get excited over such a thing as an appendix, but I these are wonderful. I have already referred to them numerous times, and I have only had the book a month or so. Topics covered include (but are not limited to) soil testing, calculating how much to grow, succession planting, organic fixes for diseases and pests, and starting an urban farming business. Yes, I actually read the appendices as well! They are well organized, and the information in them is presented in a clear and easy to use manner.

So, could you buy a farm, plant a garden, raise a bunch of animals and become a successful urban farming businessperson just with this book? Well, no- but that would be too much to ask. The Essential Urban Farmer does, however, lay a very strong foundation for doing each of those things. It discusses not only ideas and possibilities, but also the nitty gritty lowdown on what different projects and ventures entail and precise how-to and how-not-to advice and directions. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of rolling up their sleeves and working to make their little patch of urban land into a beautiful, productive farm- on whatever scale they are able.
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Format: Paperback
I read a lot of these sorts of books, and this one is a real standout. The book is truly aimed at those who want to produce a substantial portion of their own food - not those who want to run a market garden in the city. (I'm still looking for that book!) What I like about it is that they included so much detailed information about gardening on a larger scale in the city (e.g. freebie potting soil, fertilizer recipes) and also some of the common pitfalls (e.g. failing to actually harvest your goodies) and how to avoid them. There really is no other book like this; finding all of this information from other sources would take years. Also, I found it to be inspiring without the unrealistic promises you find in some other gardening books. All around excellent, enjoyable book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an over all book, it is done well. It covers a wide range of information & pratices that will help newbies and vets alike. It will provide a good base to start for the newbie. It will give the vet a new spin on things that they do now or mabey an easier way to do them.

It provides the most of the things that a good urban farmer will need to know or should be doing.
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