May 4, 2011

Farm City

The Education of an Urban Farmer
by Novella Carpenter

Living in a run-down neighborhood in the city of Oakland, Carpenter eyed the vacant lot next door to her apartment with dreams of growing tomatoes and raising chickens. And then she went ahead and did it. Started building raised beds and growing vegetables. The operation expanded into chickens, turkeys, ducks, a beehive. Then rabbits, and eventually even a pair of pigs. Some of her neighbors enjoyed in sharing the bounty of the garden, others complained about the noise and smell of the animals. She scavenged the city streets for weeds and discarded produce to feed her birds and rabbits, and ended up dumpster-diving behind high-end restaurants to acquire enough food for the pigs. I admired her thriftiness and determination- at one point she tries to go for an entire month living just on what grows in her garden, the meat from her animals, and what she can forage elsewhere in the neighborhood (fruit trees overhanging sidewalks, for example). I've often dreamed of keeping chickens for eggs and bees for the honey, but don't think I could go quite so far as Carpenter and slaughter bunnies for the table. I'm just too squeamish! Anyhow, Farm City was a quick, enjoyable read. The author also keeps a blog about her food-raising exploits.

I found out about this book on Amy Reads. Borrowed it from the public library.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 276 pages, 2009

9 comments:

Chris said...

I totally couldn't kill bunnies either T_T They're too cute. But I totally want bees when I get my own place!

Bookwyrme said...

Gracious! Is she still doing it? Does the city permit it?

Amy said...

Glad you liked this and enjoyed it! Wasn't it crazy? I'd like to do some of what she did but I certainly don't think I could go as far as she did. Impressive really :)

bermudaonion said...

My mother grew up during the Depression and they pretty much ate what they grew, including honey. I bet my mom would love this book!

wereadtoknow said...

This sounds like a dream to me! Then again, my boyfriend gives me crazy looks every time I tell him I'd love to own chickens and bees (and maybe even a goat or two) one day. Here here for urban farming!

Jeane said...

Chris- My husband and I just had the bee argument again last night. He does NOT want a bee home in the backyard. Especially with a small kid on the way... o well. Maybe in a few years.

Bookwyrme- Yes. I've been reading her blog about it. Apparently she got in trouble with the city for selling produce from a sidewalk stand without a permit (which sounded atrociously expensive). But she's also recently bought the lot, so she now owns the land herself. I think she's been gardening there for over eight years now.

Amy- It was fantastic! Makes me dream of bigger things for my own garden.

Bermudaonion- My mom always had a modest garden in the backyard, too. I remember digging for potatoes and picking tomatoes and beans. I bet your mom would like this one, too!

Wereadtoknow- Yeah. My husband is finally on board with the chickens idea but adamantly against bees! I haven't even considered anything larger yet. (Althought I'd like to have bunnies just for the poo. Rabbit poo is great for plants, I've heard!)

Amy said...

Same here! So far in my new place in a new city I've only got some herbs, peppers and tomatoes potted to try to grow them on my balcony :)

Amy@ Just Book Reading said...

I live in a city and couldn't imagine something like this in my neighborhood. Some areas of the city have public gardens, but no pigs! There's no way I could slaughter anything either. I'd just end up with a huge yard full of bunnies and pigs...

Jenny said...

How could anyone kill bunnies? Little fluffy bunnies? That is sort of the reason I don't get a boa constrictor -- I think I could manage to buy mice or rats knowing I was going to feed them to a snake. But not rabbits or chickens. They are huge and messy and I would feel guilty.