Thursday, July 30, 2009


"I liked that I could finally get a decent coffee nearby, but there was something unsettling about all the new development...I suddenly saw my neighborhood for what it was: an artifact, an abused landscape. But it could morph again."

Novella Carpenter, FARM CITY: The Education of an Urban Farmer

My skeptical mind is a bit troubled by this compilation of urban pioneering adventures in a poor, crummy Oakland neighborhood. And urban farming for the author is largely about raising and killing animals, not a motivating theme for this vegetarian.

Putting aside these complaints, Carpenter's stories about gardens, bees, manure, neighbors,plants, family heritage, and garbage are full of insight, humor, and sheer moxy. The author is self-aware and laughing, along with her omnipresent and good-humored boyfriend, Bill.

And while many will draw elaborate plans for expanding urban agricaulture in declining cities and their growing inventory of empty lots, Carpenter reminds us that urban farming is fundementally about entrepreneurs who are driven by old-fashioned values of self sufficiency, curiosity,trial and error, and taking chances for the heck of it.

No comments: