Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (Anglais) Relié – 11 juin 2009
|Neuf à partir de||Occasion à partir de|
Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
"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
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Présentation de l'éditeur
Urban and rural collide in this wry, inspiring memoir of a woman who turned a vacant lot in downtown Oakland into a thriving farm
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 three-hundred-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, tomatoes on their fire escape, or 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.
Aucun appareil Kindle n'est requis. Téléchargez l'une des applis Kindle gratuites et commencez à lire les livres Kindle sur votre smartphone, tablette ou ordinateur.
Pour obtenir l'appli gratuite, saisissez votre adresse e-mail ou numéro de téléphone mobile.
Détails sur le produit
En savoir plus sur l'auteur
Commentaires en ligne
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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).
"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.
My first trouble with the book is that the author shares little insight about her situation: The book was more like a series of events, without much reflection about those events. How could she have been surprised that her neighbors are offended when her chickens wander around into their houses? How could she be sad when her turkey is killed by neighborhood dogs when she does nothing to try and contain her? The turkey was being raised as a meat animal, yet when it's killed, the author sadly buries it, as she does two birds that are killed later by a possum. That doesn't make sense to me. They were being raised to eat. I know on my Grandma's farm that anything that died from an injury was eaten and certainly wasn't buried. Again, the author surely made this choice for a reason, but it's a reason that she doesn't share with her readers.
My second problem with the book is squalor. The author never gave me the impression of being poor - in fact, she seems to revel in her deliberately chosen urban environment - yet she's afraid to walk out of her own cul de sac, and one of her neighbors lives in junked up cars, using the street as a urinal. At one time, she devotes a whole room of cardboard boxes to her pooping, peeping, squabbling chicks and ducklings. She has a beehive on her porch, and because the door isn't well sealed, bees get into the house daily and getting stung is a reasonably regular occurrence. Yuck, just yuck. I just keep thinking that she's living in squalor, by choice. In fact, her neighbors likely think that she's adding to the squalor of their community with her fowl and pigs.
There's just not a lot in this book that makes good sense to me, and sadly, I did not enjoy it.