When Novella Carpenter and boyfriend Bill move from Seattle to Oakland, they choose their apartment for its cast of eccentric neighbors and the empty lot behind the building. In short order, Novella has taken over the lot, not only with a garden of heirloom vegetables, but chickens, bees, and even pigs. Because she is essentially squatting on another’s property, she is very generous about allowing strangers to partake of the fruits of her labor, while waiting for bulldozers to clear her space for condominiums. Being in the heart of what she describes as “the ghetto”, her neighbors all turn a blind eye to her more-than-likely illegal activities because everyone there is doing something they shouldn’t be. She fits right in. Farm City is not, however, a simple tale of a girl and a garden. Carpenter eloquently makes a case for raising your own food. Her inclusion of meat birds and pigs in her urban farm allows her to reconcile her consumption of meat and her need to harvest such food respectfully. Her dependence on those with more experience uncovers a wealth of diversity among her neighborhood and growing circle of friends. Farm City is an inspiration on many levels.
Nov 2, 2009