Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: Farm City

Farm City

I just finished Novella Carpenter’s new book Farm City. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like Novella. I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe it was because a good portion of the book is about her raising and killing animals for food. (not something I’m into) Maybe it’s because after reading a lot of gardening books, the stories all start to sound the same. Maybe it’s because she only mentions flowers once (as companion plants for her veggies).

But Novella’s story was different. Inspiring actually-in a quirky, bees by Farm City.non-vegetarian, west coast kind of way. Novella and her boyfriend live in Oakland California. They live in the grungy, ghetto part of Oakland. Not the upscale, fancy part of Oakland. They took over about an acre of vacant land at the end of their street where buildings used to stand and turned it into an Urban Farm. They raised food for themselves, their neighbors, homeless folks and the Black Panthers.

They also raised honey bees. I never really gave much thought to bees. I mean, I understand their importance in pollination, I know they are in danger from Colony Collapse Disorder but I never really pictured what it would be like to be a bee keeper. It sounded fascinating, challenging and pretty cool-especially in the middle of the city.

They also raised chickens, turkeys, rabbits and 2 pigs- for food. Right on their little vacant lot in Oakland. They also killed each of these animals themselves, except for the pigs, because they were too big. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a vegetarian. I have been for 18 years. I have no plan to change that. But I have to say, it was interesting to me to see the care and concern Novella gave to these animals before she killed them and ate them. Still not my thing, but really interesting reading.

I was really excited after reading this book because I started to think of all the cool urban farming projects that Baltimore is getting into:Real Food Farm, Great Kids Farm, community gardens and a great new urban farm project coming soon to a community near you (stayed tuned for more info). This book made me miss my old stomping grounds of San Francisco, but it also reminded me that Baltimore is a great place for Urban Farming, a great place to make a difference and a great place to live.


  1. Do you know anything about Yard Farm or BYO Farm? What's that all about?

  2. Yeah! "a great new urban farm project coming soon"! Can't wait for Yard Farm! Or BYO Farm...especially since it might include flowers!