Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farm City: The Education Of An Urban Farmer

(First posted on 6/25/09 at kaleforsale)

I finished the perfect summer read, Farm City, by Novella Carpenter. The trouble is I finished it on the first day of summer. Now what do I do? I don't think anything is going to beat this book.

Farm City is a memoir but it's also bits and parts of how to, or how not to make a garden in the ghetto; on squatted land with an eventual farm yard of animals. The story reads like a novel. The characters are naturally characters; I fell in love with everyone. Except the prostitute looking butcher - there has to be someone not to like.

Novella is quirky, smart, driven and she has a seriously good heart. She made me laugh a lot and look at my own neighborhood with new eyes. There's a deserted house nearby with a sunny front yard that would be a perfect urban garden. The idea had never crossed my mind before. That's what this book does. Novella finds possibility and assistance in places generally looked away from. All is not pretty on the urban farm. Even when I was laughing.

To start with she's farming in Oakland, not Mayberry. A homeless man watches over the garden and offers constant advice. She hauls in free horse manure, forages from local dumpsters to feed the animals. She meets the neighborhood in the garden, invited and not. Even with the weeds and fish heads, I have to admit though, it sounded like fun.

The cute guy is nearly done with Farm City. He laughs out loud too. Stays up too late reading. "Where are you now?" I hungrily ask him. He tells me and we talk about it. It's almost like getting to read the book again.

Which is what I'm going to do - read the book again. That is unless I find an empty lot I can garden.

Rating: Definitely five stars
Recommended for: Gardeners, Gleaners, Memoir Readers, Social Activists and People-that-like-to-laugh


JAM said...

I'm reading this now too! Have to say I can't imagine doing many of the things she does, but I sure admire her for doing them.

I have a question for you though, hopefully without giving too much away. When the first turkey meets an untimely end, why didn't she process and cook it since she said it was pretty much ready for harvesting anyway? Seems like she was concerned about all the money and time and care that went into feeding it and she could have had a practice run for Thanksgiving!

It also makes me appreciate CA's growing season - she keeps talking about planting and planting and planting - must be nice to grow veggies year 'round.

Green Bean said...

Just got this from the library! Can't wait to crack it open. :)

Kale for Sale said...

Jam - I remember wondering why they didn't eat the turkey too but then thinking maybe it wasn't in the best shape to be eaten? I don't know. I'm with you about admiring everything she did/does. She's still doing it. Another book maybe?!

Green Bean - I smell another review (she writes with crossed fingers).