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Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (Anglais) Broché – 25 mai 2010


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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"Easily the funniest, weirdest, most perversely provocative gardening book I've ever read. I couldn't put it down... The writing soars." --The New York Times Book Review

"Captivating... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules

"Fresh, fearless, and jagged around the edges, Ms. Carpenter's book... puts me in mind of Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love." --The New York Times

"Carpenter, with [her] humor and step-by-step clarity, make[s] it seem utterly possible to grow the kind of food you want to eat, wherever you live." --Los Angeles Times




Présentation de l'éditeur

“One of New York Times Top 10 Books of 2009” (Dwight Garner)

"Captivating... By turns edgy, moving, and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and
Food Rules

When Novella Carpenter--captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency as the daughter of two back-to-the-earth hippies--moves to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovers a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door, she closes her eyes and pictures heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop.

What starts out as a few egg-laying chickens leads to turkeys, geese, and ducks. And not long after, along came two 300-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals aren’t pets. Novella is raising these animals for dinner.

An unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer’s tips, and a great deal of heart, Farm City offers a beautiful mediation on what we give up to live the way we do today.


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43 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Surprising Treat 27 août 2009
Par Mira Rose Hilton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I bought this book on a whim--as it's not my usual reading fare.

Within the first few sentences, I was hooked. This is the most engaging memoir I've ever read.

I did read Barbara Kingsolver's book ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, and I found it both interesting and educational, but while reading it, I never seemed to lose my awareness that Barbara Kingsolver has a LOT of money. Dumping society to start a farm was a great deal of work on her family's part--but they could also afford to hire people with large equipment to come in and prepare their gardening soil. And they have a certain safety net at the prospect of failure.

In FARM CITY, Novella and her good-hearted boyfriend, Bill, are so poor, they must continually come up with creative ways to shoe-string their urban farm and keep it going. Seriously, they are scavenging wood from garbage piles to build their raised gardens. Novella takes two buckets out into the streets of the ghetto in Oakland to go "weed hunting" to bring some treats for her hens. They borrow a truck and drive way out of town to shovel up free horse manure themselves to use as fertilizer.

This alone made this book stand out for me.

One small warning though . . . vegetarians may not enjoy this book about halfway through. Some of the farm animals Novella raises are there as "food," and she does not flinch from killing them herself--and explaining the best methods. I grew up on a farm, so this didn't surprise me, but I do think readers should be warned.

Anyway, the book is wise and very funny at times and clever and unique and also provides a warm theme of community spirit. I read it in three sittings.
43 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Amazing read 5 juillet 2009
Par Christine Lee Zilka - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Farm City is an awesome read, written by Novella Carpenter, whose book I rank up with Bill Buford's wonderful Heat, with the spirit of Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. And I love the voice-Novella the narrator often wonders why people open up to her and accept her so readily (among others, Chris Lee of Eccolo, who teaches her how to prepare pork from her pigs); the voice of the narrator (straightforward, funny, unblinking to the point of childlike wonder, compassionate) is hers, and as a reader I found myself liking her so very much.

I mean, she describes her community in the ghetto with compassion and humor (describing the "tumbleweeds" as "tumbleweaves").

I've been meaning to buy the book at one of our local stores, at one of Novella's book tour readings, but my availability did not intersect with her schedule. And so I ordered the book off Amazon-but for as long as I waited to buy her tome, I wasted no time in cracking it open and settling in for what turned out to be an absorbing, delightful, educational reading of a book that drips with optimism and moxie in a world that has in recent months, gone dark and brooding.

Novella has a farm. She has a farm on an abandoned lot in a part of Oakland nicknamed "Ghost Town," near the freeway and BART tracks. I've visited her farm and was astonished on my first visit to discover an oasis in a part of town that is not a destination site for many-most people drive past it on the freeway, ride past it on BART, there are very few grocery stores, and abandoned lots are many. Like the Valley of Ashes in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. But on her street corner, behind a chain link fence, is a lot full of green vegetables and myriad fruits, with a quiet symphony of animal noises.

The farm is serious work, with its share of tragedy: some of her birds die at the mercy of wild neighborhood dogs. Because the abandoned lot on which she squats and plants the garden is purposely unlocked, sometimes others come by and harvest things without permission. (This, she takes in stride-it's not "her" land and she willingly shares the harvest). A farm, rural or urban, is not a perfect fairytale. Nature is unpredictable-but rewarding and complex, too.

When Novella's animals are slaughtered (by her or, rarely, by a third party), it is not a heartless act but a very complex one; sad, respectful, awful, spiritual, and ultimately, pragmatic.

When she buys pigs at auction, unsure of what "Barrow" or "Gilt" might mean, she asks a boy, "Does G mean `girl'?" The way she describes the boy's reaction, "He looked at me as if he might fall over from the sheer power of my enormous idiocy. Then he nodded, so stunned by my stupidity he couldn't speak," is so full of humility and frank humor that I was bowled over as a reader. I laughed out loud. (lol to you). Most writers in the foodie/food realm are so pompous and full of themselves, that I was truly delighted and charmed by Novella here.

I'm always interested in novel structure, and I took a quick look at how Novella structured Farm City: Rabbit, Turkey, Pig. (Those who read her blog know she has added goats to her farm in recent years).

The book is written, more or less, chronologically-because Novella really did start with rabbits, moving on to turkeys, and then pigs. But I still found the livestock-centric structure interesting and effective because yes, to a farmer life and time revolves around the livestock at hand.

The book is on Oprah's list of 25 books to read this summer, and deservedly so.
33 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Well worth the cost of a shiny new hardcover 23 juin 2009
Par snowy owl books - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Imagine raising a pig or two in the gritty ghetto on dumpster food then having it turn out to be a project of master world class artisanal salumi making handed down by a few thousand years in Tuscany and transfered to America. Not bad work Novella. Not to mention it is a sweet recognition now when I see the sopressetta and pancettas at the store and know what they really mean and what they came from. It also explains the cost.

Novella's inspiring hard to believe adventures are really grounded in her thoughtful research and willingness to try new things, being imaginative and skilled is what it takes to create the ultimate luxury of self sufficiency on a dime, thrown in with the fact that she is a book collecting explorer of cuisine.

In this book you get the full contrast of Novella. From her inner city life filled with profanity, drug busts and homelessness framed against delicate peach blossoms and honey bees that drift delicately over to the Bhuddist monastery located on her street. It's an eye opener for those contrasts alone so that we may remember our smallest fortunes are all around us.

I hope this author continues with writing in her sharing way (sharing as a farmer shares).
19 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Intrepid but lightweight 15 janvier 2012
Par Veronique Chez Sheep - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I have been turning around how to put a finger on what wasn't right with this book, and then I went to check out author Novella Carpenter's blog. There it was, right there on her recent November 23, 2011 entry:
"Though I have always rolled my eyes at the term, I'm trying to be more mindful."

And that is what I found wrong with her book: she does not seem very mindful or thoughtful. She's admirably intrepid, plunging right in, bringing in truckloads of manure, creating raised beds, dumpster-diving to feed her pigs. She's engaging; the book is very readable. She is doing, or attempting to do, something larger than herself in creating a garden, planting fruit trees, raising honeybees, and killing her own livestock to eat. But somewhere about the middle, you realize the story isn't going to get any deeper. Comparisons with Bill Buford's "Heat" and Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" not withstanding, "Farm City" appears to come more out of enthusiasm than substance-- or, as we're reminded repeatedly throughout, it is more a reaction to being raised for a time in a rural environment by "hippies" (despite the fact that her mother left the farm and moved to town when Novella was four.)

There is something just...off...about her farming as well: we are treated to various scenarios of how generous she is with her produce, not locking the gates, allowing the entire neighborhood to pluck carrots and collards from her garden, taking bags of salad greens to feed the Black Panther children's reading program, and then we are met with the Month Long Experiment of Novella eating only what she raises herself. Her ignorance about what her garden is able to provide makes the experiment seem both miserly and poorly thought out: the potatoes are nowhere near ready for harvest, for instance, and she is reduced to eating the few ears of Indian corn she'd dried for decorations last year. Somewhere around her confession of being limited to eating mostly grated pumpkin, then snipping off her duck's head with pruning shears in the bathtub, she really started to creep me out. During this month, she refuses to share lettuce with the reading program, she hides the leftover duck in the back of the refrigerator so her partner won't find it, and she is peculiarly obsessed with getting "enough" protein, despite eating three eggs every day.

There's a weird lack of affect-- possibly the greatest amount of passion she expends is when she is misled about the timing of her pigs' slaughter and is unable to see them die. Geese, ducks, turkeys all fall to various urban predations, and her bees die over winter, and all this is presented as inexplicable: who would have figured that loose turkeys might fall prey to dogs (the same thing happened to her chicken in Seattle, is she incapable of learning)? Or that a beehive might require some care over winter? Or that keeping ten grown chickens in the house presents a health hazard? Or that neighbors might object to the smells two pigs create?

I wanted to like this book so much. I wanted to feel a kinship with Novella and her experiences. But unlike Bill Buford's "Heat" and Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma", Novella's self-involved lack of depth make her experience more of a warning than something to emulate.
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A surprisingly satisfying ending... 22 août 2010
Par DSPOverseas - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I'm rating this book more highly than I had first intended, because it grew on me as it went on. For those few reviewers who quit within the first few chapters, it is truly a shame, as the book's crowning glory was really the third section (Pigs). Since my gripes about the book mostly came from the first part, I'll start with my main complaints:

-The book, as a few others have noted, is very heavily about raising (and slaughtering, and eating) livestock. It was probably my mistake to not realize, as another reviewer pointed out, that there is a reason that this is called "Farm City" and not "Garden City." Nonetheless, I had a hard time getting past this in the first few chapters, as I kept wanting the book to talk more about the vegetable growing, beekeeping, and even the laying hens. However, these were all things that the author had done previously; they were not new endeavors for her Oakland farm, and therefore not the focus of this book. On the plus side, once I started letting the book just "be what it was," I came to greatly appreciate the livestock-focused tale.

-As one other reviewer notes, I was mildly frustrated throughout by some of Novella's naiveté about the suffering of the human beings in her midst. Her characterizations of commercial sex workers, drug users and homeless individuals was callous at times. Even at the end, when she talks about having become "part" of her neighborhood, I had to question the reality of her statement. She may see it that way, but do her diverse and struggling neighbors? (*I add this with the caveat that I am a young, educated white female who has lived in the inner city and worked with these populations...if you don't have that kind of perspective, her descriptions probably won't bother you much.)

However, there were two positive aspects of this book, which, in my mind, made it all worth it:
-The evolution of Novella's respect for her animals and their flesh is sincere, and lends maturity to her as a character (maturity that, in my mind, was previously lacking). As an animal-loving almost-vegetarian myself (low meat consumption, picky about its origins), I was surprised how much I grew to appreciate and even identify with her attitude towards her animals. I'm still not sure whether she has pushed me closer to full-vegetarianism, or to raising my own animals so that I can truly appreciate the meat that I eat, but her thought process on this matter has moved me more than anything I've read on the subject in a long time. I did not, like on reviewer here, find these descriptions to be "depressing" or over the top - I thought she devoted the appropriate amount of time and emotion to these matters.

-Though not as well-developed as her points on respecting your meat, the author also gives us something to think about in terms of what urban agriculture means - it's past, present, and future. Within the last few chapters, her increasing understanding of the role (or lack thereof) of her urban farm is both satisfying and enlightening. This, like the point about meat origins above, has opened my mind to a new way of considering things.

A final note that is meant to be informative - neither positive nor negative:
-This book is about the author's story. It's about what she thought, felt, experienced. It is not particularly instructive. You won't learn how to keep bees; you may become inspired to do so, based on Novella's experience and attachment to her hive(s). At times she delves into the science or history of certain things...but not consistently. Therefore, this is a book to help you think about and consider the idea of urban farming, not to walk you through how you can set up your own farm - after all, you probably don't have an empty lot with no zoning restrictions and absentee owner sitting empty next to your apartment.
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