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Short Synopsis
Urban and rural collide in this wry, inspiring memoir of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving farm.

Full Synopsis
Novella Carpenter loves cities—the culture, the crowds, the energy. At the same time, she can't shake the fact that she is the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables. Ambivalent about repeating her parents' disastrous mistakes, yet drawn to the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Carpenter decided that it might be possible to have it both ways: a homegrown vegetable plot as well as museums, bars, concerts, and a twenty-four-hour convenience mart mere minutes away. Especially when she moved to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door. She closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What started out as a few egg-laying chickens led to turkeys, geese, and ducks. Soon, some rabbits joined the fun, then two 300-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals weren't pets; she was a farmer, not a zookeeper. Novella was raising these animals for dinner. Novella Carpenter's corner of downtown Oakland is populated by unforgettable characters. Lana (anal spelled backward, she reminds us) runs a speakeasy across the street and refuses to hurt even a fly, let alone condone raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Bobby, the homeless man who collects cars and car parts just outside the farm, is an invaluable neighborhood concierge. The turkeys, Harold and Maude, tend to escape on a daily basis to cavort with the prostitutes hanging around just off the highway nearby. Every day on this strange and beautiful farm, urban meets rural in the most surprising ways.

For anyone who has ever grown herbs on their windowsill or tomatoes on their fire escape, or who has obsessed over the offerings at the local farmers' market, Carpenter's story will capture your heart. And if you've ever considered leaving it all behind to become a farmer outside the city limits or looked at the abandoned lot next door with a gleam in your eye, consider this both a cautionary tale and a full-throated call to action. Farm City is an unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmers' tips, and a great deal of heart. It is also a moving meditation on urban life versus the natural world and what we have given up to live the way we do.

"Utterly enchanting.... The juxtaposition of the farming life with inner-city grit...elevates it to the realm of the magical." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Narrated with cheerful verve, White's performance will charm even those [listeners] without the slightest inclination to get up close and personal with their future meals." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Audio Review

"Karen White reads these lively accounts of missteps and delicious victories, including recipes, with the author's intelligence, humor, and devotion to the American ideal of hard work." ---AudioFile

"I love this book, and I love Novella Carpenter. She is insane in the best way and has taught herself how to write as well as how to farm in a ghetto." —Michael Ruhlman, author of the New York Times Notable Book The Soul of a Chef

"Flat out amazing.... Novella made me want to get up off my ass and go buy a pig! Plant heirloom watermelons! Build a chick brooder!" —Mary Roach, author of the New York Times bestseller Stiff

"Carpenter's adventurous memoir...offers a contemporary restaging of the agrarian American dream." ---San Francisco Chronicle

"A fascinating, vividly written story about city and community that will change perceptions about the local farmers market." ---Kirkus Starred Review

"Farm City is filled with terrific stories.... A serious, if tragicomic, meditation on raising and then killing your own animals." ---The New York Times

"Farm City is an eye-opener in many ways, leaving you grateful to Carpenter for sharing, in such detail, the real fruits of her labors." ---The Boston Globe
New York Times' Dwight Garner's Top 10 Book

Oprah Bestseller

Publishers Weekly Review

Publishers Weekly Audio

Kirkus Review

Farm City

The Education of an Urban Farmer

Author Novella Carpenter

Narrated by Karen White

Publication date Jul 23, 2009

Running time 10 hrs

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