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The Education of an Urban Farmer

Irish Goat. Source: http://www.flickr.
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As far as urban farming goes, we’ve got it pretty easy – A large suburban lot, clean soil. Sure, we’ve got our challenges – City Bylaws that prohibit chickens or goats or pretty much anything other than a dog or a cat; a hill that wears you out after a couple of trips back to the shed; sandy soil that sucks every drop of water down wherever the topsoil is a little thin; and a winter that covers the lot with up to two feet of snow.

Our little homestead is just like a farm rancher, on a smaller scale, but aside from the houses on three sides of us, it is tough to really consider this an “urban farm”.

Novella Carpenter lives in the hood, downtown Oakland California, where gangs and guns, graffiti and gutted cars are more likely to be spotted than a garden. Fortunately for us, she shares her experiences in a memoir style book…

Farm City – The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter takes the reader through the descent of an Urban Farmer, set in three scenes, Turkey, Rabbit and Pig. I say descent, because Novella commits herself in stages, learning the art of raising, feeding and slaughtering these animals to feed friends and share food with the characters in her neighbourhood.

The descent is obvious – my favourite part of the memoir details the decision to raise pigs, and proves it should not be taken lightly. Feeding them on the wasted food from Chinatown, carrying buckets of slops from the bins to the car, the car to the pig pen seems an economic way to raise pigs. Eying off the prosciutto, ham, bacon, roast pork, ribs and salami, as the pigs grow, Novella weaves a story worth taking the time to read.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.