A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
What do you see in vacant city lots littered with beer bottles and overgrown with weeds? Do you imagine verdant vegetable gardens? Probably not, but that is precisely what Novella Carpenter imagined when she and her husband moved into the Ghost Town section of Oakland, California, close to the interstate and the city center. She was an experienced urban gardener who had used small spaces in Seattle to grow her own produce – a woman up for a bigger challenge. She got just what she wanted on a street populated with drug dealers, Buddhist monks, recent Asian immigrants, and a man who lived in a series of abandoned cars. She recounts her story in Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.
From the opening minutes of the audiobook, I was thinking of others who would enjoy this book. First I thought of my niece Ruby who lives in Oakland and promotes progressive causes. She occasionally posts photos of her veggie meals on Facebook. Does she already know of Carpenter? Then I thought of my sister MJ, a wonderful cook who has turned her front yard in Austin into a vegetable garden. Like Carpenter, she has experience with livestock.
None of my family ever resolved to live solely on what she could produce. Carpenter, however, saw an opportunity to prove herself a true farmer. After keeping bees, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and rabbits, she went whole hog. Two pigs in fact. To complicate matters, she also resolved that she would not buy pig chow and turned to dumpster diving across Oakland to feed her pigs. It is a great story that I found hard to pause. Look on Media on Demand to download Farm City. – Review by Rick