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18 February 2010

#10 Farm City by Novella Carpenter

My wife passed this book to me after enjoying it herself. It chronicles the adventures of the auther as she pursues farm dreams from the depths of the Oakland ghetto. A terrifyingly cool idea!

Novella Carpenter moved from Seattle to Oakland in pursuit of adventure. Unsatisfied with her living arrangements, she abandons the backyard gardens and beehives she maintained in Seattle, and reestablished herself from an apartment in a rough area of urban California. Blessed with helpful, colorful neighbors who discribe their home as Sesame Street, Novella starts with bees on her deck and birds in her bedroom. Overtaking the empty lot next door, she establishes a vegetable garden. A friend leaves breeding rabbits in her care, which promptly establish themselve as livestock. The farm experiment culminates with pigs, whose feed consists of dumpster forage and whose future was hamsteak and salami. Novella survives awkward moments with neighbors, self-imposed local diets, attempted muggings, and more.

The writing in the book is demonstrative of Carpenter's training as a journalist. The chapters are short, episodic, and the tone is dry but poignant. The book shows Carpenter's development as a person discovering her own calling and comfort. It's a quick read, and I recommend it as a wonderful demonstration of the potential urban areas hold for personally raised produce.

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