This was certainly different and interesting. Farm City is Novella Carpenter’s story of her urban farm — a plot of land (not owned by her — she was basically squat-farming behind the house where she rented an apartment) in the middle of an Oakland, California slum. In this unlikely spot, Novella not only grows vegetables and raises chickens, she keeps bees, raises turkeys, ducks and geese, and eventually raises and slaughters two pigs.
Given my own interests, I found the “urban” part of her story almost more interesting than the “farm” part (which, once she got to slaughtering and butchering, was a little too graphic for me at times) — I loved the descriptions of Novella’s eccentric inner-city neighbours and the neighbourhood. It was an eye-opening description of how much farming you actually can do in the city if you’re committed to it, and I can see after reading this book that urban farming actually makes a lot of practical sense. It’s definitely not something I’ll be getting into, since I struggle even to keep potted plants alive, but I would be very interested in learning more about, supporting, and if possible even buying produce from urban farmers in my area. Farming is much more difficult in Newfoundland than it is in California, but this book made me want to know more about what’s happening with urban farming in my own community. Novella Carpenter’s writing style is breezy, fun and engaging, which helped make this a quick and fun read as well as an informative one.