Novella Carpenter talks about Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. Urban and rural collide in this inspiring memoir of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving farm.
If you have ever considered leaving it all behind to become a farmer, consider this both a cautionary tale and a full-throated call to action.
Novella Carpenter grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State. She majored in biology and English at the University of Washington in Seattle. While attending Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, she studied under Michael Pollan for two years.
Her writing has appeared on Salon.com, Saveur.com, sfgate.com, and in Mother Jones.
Author Novella Carpenter reads an excerpt from her book Farm City, describing how she scrounged feed for her urban farm animals.
"In five minutes we found a squashed key lime pie, a bag of still-warm beans and a container of old romaine lettuce," she says of one dumpster diving session. "We felt like Vegas gamblers on a winning streak."
Form of farming in which nearly all the crops or livestock raised are used to maintain the farmer and his family, leaving little surplus for sale or trade. Preindustrial agricultural peoples throughout the world practiced subsistence farming. As urban centers grew, agricultural production became more specialized and commercial farming developed, with farmers producing a sizable surplus of certain crops, which they traded for manufactured goods or sold for cash. Subsistence farming persists today in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing areas.
This woman represents everything that's wrong with the flood of gentrifying upper-middle class professionals that see West Oakland as the next 'It' place.
She is not a part of the neighborhood; she came down from the Hills to where all the colorful poor people lived and thought she'd try her hand at playing among the great unwashed, in the process raising property values and changing the character of the area.
The very fact she WILLFULLY CHOSE to move down to the Bottoms from the Hills shows she doesn't belong there. The traditional and long-standing poor residents of the Bottoms didn't choose to live there; they were segregated and confined by decades of exclusionary red-lining practices. The Black Panther Party was founded in West Oakland to fight this injustice, and now years later, after decades of neglect and oppression, these bougie hipsters think they can forget about all that brutal history and go wherever they please on the heels of generations of White privelage.
When will these people understand that being a do-gooder liberal multiculturalist with a college degree does not give you social license to go wherever they hell you want? Would this nice pretty blonde woman have moved to West Oakland before the Cypress Freeway collapsed, when the murder rate was one of the highest in the nation, before developers built all those new fancy apartments that local residents couldn't afford?
Living among ACTUAL poor people when you are not of their social station DOES NOT make you authentic or progressive. In fact, it makes you a tourist and a gentrifier, just as bad as the police and politicians.