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Customer Review

23 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stick to the Vegetables, August 31, 2010
This review is from: Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (Paperback)
How many things annoyed me about this book and the author? Well, I found the book amusing and Carpenter admirable during the time she was growing her vegetable garden. Once she started with her animal farm, the book went south for me, and she seemed like a real wacko. Some examples: 1) The fact that she even HAD pigs, turkeys, rabbits, geese and ducks in a tiny lot in the middle of an urban area--wacko; 2) The fact that she became somewhat defensive when neighbors complained about the smells and noises--wacko; 3)The fact that her boyfriend complains about her "morning breath" after she eats too many vegetables, yet she freely admits that he is a "guy who rarely brushes his teeth". Charming. Wacko by association; 4) The fact that she and her bad-teeth boyfriend dumpster dive at least four times a week in what seems like half the bins in Oakland, and that she considers this a normal way of life--wacko; 5) The fact that she considers it a badge of honor to live in a crime-infested, drug-infested, bullet ridden ghetto when she can afford better--wacko; 6) The fact that she gives us pages and pages and pages and pages and pages on how to kill and clean turkeys, how to kill and clean rabbits, and how to kill and dismember pigs--wacko, wacko, wacko. I thought I was going to read a book on urban gardening, not Dissection 101.
And one more thing: a tagger is a vandal who has no respect for other people's property, not a "grafitti artist", as Carpenter so admiringly puts it.
So would I want this woman as my neighbor? Maybe yes when she grew her vegetable garden. But when the turkeys, pigs, et al came into the neighborhood, that would be the time to call the cops.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 9, 2011 5:19:15 PM PST
1)Why did you read this book? 2) are you even interested in farming? 3) Back in the day people actually raised their own poultry, pork and beef and yes, they killed it. wacko.

Posted on Feb 12, 2011 3:17:52 PM PST
pyewackett says:
Do you just really love the word "wacko" beyond all reason or can you just not think of another descriptive term?

Posted on Apr 27, 2011 10:25:07 PM PDT
Patricia says:
It seems like many of the less favorable reviews are either from people who are either not from California, or from people in California who have never spent serious time in areas like Oakland. I'm from Nor-Cal originally, and found this book after a recommendation from my best friend who also happens to be a librarian and attended one of Novella's talks. The book describes pretty much how it is in many Oakland or South Los Angeles areas, and many people live there even if they can afford "better" to see what they can do with it.

Good for them. I don't have much room for a garden, a few hundred square feet, and I don't think I would be able to turn down a location/lot like that to squat in, with neighbors like that, if the opportunity presented itself.

Posted on Jan 15, 2012 3:38:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 15, 2012 3:40:01 PM PST
I don't know if Novella Carpenter is "wacko" but she certainly comes off as naive and perhaps ignorant in this book. I lived very close to where she raised her pigs, and when I realized (reading between the lines) that she did not clean out her pig pen - that the landlord's landscaper needed to plant jasmine to try to "cover up the barnyard smell", that the neighbor's little girl actually became nauseous from the ammonia fumes produced when Novella tossed soiled straw from the rabbit pen into the pig's enclosure and then left it there to ferment, despite that the pigs weren't interested in it either...I mean, one thing that happens when humans keep animals in a limited amount of space is this obligates the humans to be more vigilant in cleaning up urine and manure so the animals are not breathing fumes and wallowing in excrement. Every authoritative resource on raising pigs emphasizes they are clean animals, they keep separate eating and defecation areas, and while they enjoy a mud wallow, keeping them in filthy conditions is not appropriate husbandry. I don't object to her raising animals to eat, but the ignorance presented in this book is a caution.
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