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Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Paperback – May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"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
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Top Customer Reviews
Within the first few sentences, I was hooked. This is the most engaging memoir I've ever read.
I did read Barbara Kingsolver's book ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, and I found it both interesting and educational, but while reading it, I never seemed to lose my awareness that Barbara Kingsolver has a LOT of money. Dumping society to start a farm was a great deal of work on her family's part--but they could also afford to hire people with large equipment to come in and prepare their gardening soil. And they have a certain safety net at the prospect of failure.
In FARM CITY, Novella and her good-hearted boyfriend, Bill, are so poor, they must continually come up with creative ways to shoe-string their urban farm and keep it going. Seriously, they are scavenging wood from garbage piles to build their raised gardens. Novella takes two buckets out into the streets of the ghetto in Oakland to go "weed hunting" to bring some treats for her hens. They borrow a truck and drive way out of town to shovel up free horse manure themselves to use as fertilizer.
This alone made this book stand out for me.
One small warning though . . . vegetarians may not enjoy this book about halfway through. Some of the farm animals Novella raises are there as "food," and she does not flinch from killing them herself--and explaining the best methods. I grew up on a farm, so this didn't surprise me, but I do think readers should be warned.
Anyway, the book is wise and very funny at times and clever and unique and also provides a warm theme of community spirit. I read it in three sittings.
I mean, she describes her community in the ghetto with compassion and humor (describing the "tumbleweeds" as "tumbleweaves").
I've been meaning to buy the book at one of our local stores, at one of Novella's book tour readings, but my availability did not intersect with her schedule. And so I ordered the book off Amazon-but for as long as I waited to buy her tome, I wasted no time in cracking it open and settling in for what turned out to be an absorbing, delightful, educational reading of a book that drips with optimism and moxie in a world that has in recent months, gone dark and brooding.
Novella has a farm. She has a farm on an abandoned lot in a part of Oakland nicknamed "Ghost Town," near the freeway and BART tracks. I've visited her farm and was astonished on my first visit to discover an oasis in a part of town that is not a destination site for many-most people drive past it on the freeway, ride past it on BART, there are very few grocery stores, and abandoned lots are many. Like the Valley of Ashes in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. But on her street corner, behind a chain link fence, is a lot full of green vegetables and myriad fruits, with a quiet symphony of animal noises.Read more ›
Novella's inspiring hard to believe adventures are really grounded in her thoughtful research and willingness to try new things, being imaginative and skilled is what it takes to create the ultimate luxury of self sufficiency on a dime, thrown in with the fact that she is a book collecting explorer of cuisine.
In this book you get the full contrast of Novella. From her inner city life filled with profanity, drug busts and homelessness framed against delicate peach blossoms and honey bees that drift delicately over to the Bhuddist monastery located on her street. It's an eye opener for those contrasts alone so that we may remember our smallest fortunes are all around us.
I hope this author continues with writing in her sharing way (sharing as a farmer shares).
"Though I have always rolled my eyes at the term, I'm trying to be more mindful."
And that is what I found wrong with her book: she does not seem very mindful or thoughtful. She's admirably intrepid, plunging right in, bringing in truckloads of manure, creating raised beds, dumpster-diving to feed her pigs. She's engaging; the book is very readable. She is doing, or attempting to do, something larger than herself in creating a garden, planting fruit trees, raising honeybees, and killing her own livestock to eat. But somewhere about the middle, you realize the story isn't going to get any deeper. Comparisons with Bill Buford's "Heat" and Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" not withstanding, "Farm City" appears to come more out of enthusiasm than substance-- or, as we're reminded repeatedly throughout, it is more a reaction to being raised for a time in a rural environment by "hippies" (despite the fact that her mother left the farm and moved to town when Novella was four.)
There is something just...off...about her farming as well: we are treated to various scenarios of how generous she is with her produce, not locking the gates, allowing the entire neighborhood to pluck carrots and collards from her garden, taking bags of salad greens to feed the Black Panther children's reading program, and then we are met with the Month Long Experiment of Novella eating only what she raises herself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book! It is on my top 10 favorite books. Just such a wonderful read.Published 1 month ago by M. Leroy
This is one of those books you don't want to end. Her humor is delightful.Published 2 months ago by z
A story well told from an interesting and inspiring (yet never preachy) point of view peppered with incidental information on urban farming. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Rachel C
Very interesting, quick read, especially if you're in the Bay Area or other area with urban farms.Published 8 months ago by FeedbackfromCali