Erica's Reviews > Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

Farm City by Novella Carpenter
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Oct 09, 09


The best book I have read in ages, seriously. This is a story about a woman my age who started an urban farm deep in an Oakland ghetto, and the saga of going from bees to fowl to rabbits to pigs. She has a sardonic, witty tone that kept me right with her while she illuminated her awkward, sweaty, brutal, and difficult quest.

She really gets to the heart of what is important about food, and what is lacking in our food culture, without sounding preachy. She addresses the class issues of local/fresh/organic by demonstrating that it could be done on a shoestring, anywhere, and that sharing and learning as a community is integral, even if your community is full of gangsters and whores and misfits.

Ironically, this experiment would never work even for a lower-middle class situation. Some chickens, perhaps a hutch of rabbits, but keeping actual livestock could only be possible in a place where everybody looked the other way. There is so much beauty to her coaxing such earnest life and sustenance out of a wasteland. It seems a shame that most people couldn't really obtain this level of urban farmhood if they wished. The situation really seemed to be a star-crossed evolution as each success emboldened her to another level.

What I loved best, though, was the heartfelt addressing of why and how food, especially meat, should be respected and honored. I really believe that the way we feed ourselves is a huge part of our global and environmental troubles, and a large, fundamental shift back to these values would be instrumental in setting many things back on a better path.

And now I really want some salami.
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