Hot read: Urban farming uncensored 

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer
By Novella Carpenter
(Penguin, 2009)

This book may be old news for those who dream of turning a patch of backyard into a farm, but I just picked it up and couldn’t put it down. I saw a stack of them at Berkeley’s Bio-Fuel Oasis where I buy supplies for my Pacific Heights chickens. (Author Novella Carpenter is a worker-owner of the co-operative.)

My chickens are just egg-laying pets. I’m not a card-carrying member of the urban farming movement, but Carpenter’s voice is so honest and her stories about building a farm in an abandoned lot in a tough neighborhood of Oakland, so improbable, that the writing transcends what has become boring and didactic sacred subject matter.

This woman is wild. She and her equally mad live-in boyfriend buy a piglet at a 4-H auction in Mendocino and raise it to 300 pounds — 50 yards from the freeway, by feeding it Dumpster food from Oakland restaurants.

More a farm tell-all than a do-it-yourself manual, this book about urban farming is unbelievably exciting.

About The Author

Patricia Unterman

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