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Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer…

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

by Novella Carpenter

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Charming, funny memoir of Novella as she lives on a "farm" in downtown Oakland, CA. Starts w/bees, poultry, bunnies, pigs. Learns a lot about gardening & herself. ( )
  sraelling | May 6, 2018 |
The memoir of Novella and parter, Bill, living in the "ghetto" next to an empty lot in which she takes over for a garden. A daughter of '60's hippies who "lived of the land" in Idaho, she loves the idea of sustainability. She is a beekeeper and keeps chickens but she wants more- so she buys some poults (turkey babies) and raises them and butchered them for Thanksgiving. She becomes a rabbit keeper. And lastly she tries two kids. All were successful and you get to hear some of the nitty gritty of a farmer. Being an urban farmer is an adventure but difficult work. ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 20, 2017 |
Read for book club.

A memoir of a few years in Novella Carpenter's life, during which she kept bees, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, ducks and geese (and grew fruit and vegetables) on a vacant plot next to her apartment building (and in her apartment itself). I was never quite sure whose land she was squatting on - there were her African landlords, the developer Jack Chan... Anyway, until the pigs got too smelly, her neighbours seemed to tolerate the animals.

I found this book fairly readable for the most part, although the last quarter, devoted mainly to curing pork, bored me and I skimmed it. Since it was a more or less month by month account, the only thing really driving the narrative was the lifecycle of the animals, which was perhaps why I didn't find it a page turner. My main problems with the memoir were a result of the character of Novella herself (I would give her credit for being consistently herself, but I didn't like her) and the fact that I never felt I had a handle on her life as a whole. What exactly were her other jobs? How much time did she have to spare to being a "farmer"? She had some odd attitudes to e.g. restaurant kitchens ("I expected to get groped..."), the police, people who keep their houses clean, and also a puzzling tendency to say "shined" when she meant "shone".

I also worried for the animals, which she didn't seem to be terribly good at looking after - they were always being killed by predators or wandering into traffic. Then there was the entirely pointless decision to live off the produce of her garden for a month, something she decided to do on a whim and which clearly was very bad for her health, but which she seemed to feel was terribly important...

Ultimately she made me feel that people should not be allowed to have urban farms, which I don't think was her intention! ( )
  pgchuis | Mar 2, 2017 |
Delightful! The author is so funny. What a fun and educational book. You won't find a more colorful cast of characters, and I believe the book may be nonfiction. The author and husband move from Seattle to Oakland, CA into a raggedy old downtrodden neighborhood. Novella gets beehives and uses an empty lot, with permission, to make a community garden. The neighbors are priceless! Soon Novella graduates to chickens, then rabbits, then pigs. It's a hilarious ride. All this in a small space in a city, where life is gritty and varied. The beautiful thing is that many different cultures get along and thrive here in harmony. The book has heart. Don't miss this one!

( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |

I really liked this. Carpenter is funny and sassy. I'd go dumpster diving with her any day. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
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Chronicles the adventures of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving urban farm, complete with chickens, turkey, bees, and pigs.

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