Carpenter's writing is both gritty and funny and generally a pleasure to read. The book chronicles Carpenter's somewhat unintentional experience of creating a "squat garden" in the vacant lot next to her apartment building in Ghost Town, which is what she and the other residents call their rundown neighborhood located near downtown Oakland.
She also makes new friends including Willow, the pioneering urban farmer who started City Slicker Farms and local chef, Chris Lee who teaches her how to turn the two pigs she and Billy raise entirely on scraps from green bins throughout Chinatown and from food foraged from local dumpsters into delicious hand-cured meats.
Along with the journey from gardener to urban farmer, Novella takes us soul-searching on topics like the divisions between races, classes, and rural and urban dwellers, what it means to be a carnivore, and how raising your own animals for food changes that dynamic. All the while, she pours her heart into growing something green, beautiful and nourishing that feeds not only her and Billy but their friends and neighbors in Ghost Town, as well.
Novella attended UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism where studied under Michael Pollan and her training as a journalist has not gone to waste. Her writing is excellent -- evocative, quirky, funny and brutally honest. My interest in her story never waned and I even found myself laughing aloud at times as I read.
Give Farm City a read -- I don't think you'll regret it. You can keep up with Novella's adventures at her blog -- Ghost Town Farm.
You might also like:
Review: The Dirty Life: a Memoir of Farming, Food & Love
Review: The Urban Farm Handbook
Finding Our Way Back To Food, An interview with Ann Vileisis, Author of Kitchen Literacy
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