Author and farmer Novella Carpenter, who will be featured in our next episode, is a central figure in the urban farming movement. Her 2009 memoir Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer describes her large garden in the run down Oakland neighborhood Ghost Town and was on many critics best of 2009 lists. Her newest book, co-authored with Willow Rosenthal, The Essential Urban Farmer was released in December 2011.
So, how did Novella get her start?
I first started farming in the city of Seattle in 1998. At the time, I was a book editor at Sasquatch Books, and one of our favorite authors was Carla Emery. She wrote a book called The Encyclopedia of Country Living. One day I was flipping through the newsprint pages of the book (this is how editors procrastinate) and happened upon a section called “How to Build a Chicken House”. By that time, I was gardening a little bit. I grew peas and some lettuces, but I hadn’t thought of actually growing animals. Carla inspired me, and soon we had three golden-laced wyanndotte chickens and a little hen house. In a strange coincidence, we later found an old Chinese billboard that read, “Hen”. We immediately hung in on our porch. I loved the eggs and the chickens.
Eventually I moved to California. Now I live and farm in Oakland, CA. I can see downtown O-Town from my back porch, BART seems to run straight across my living room, as does I-980. It’s really spiraled from those early years in Seattle: to bees, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, geese, and I hope, one day, goats or a pig. A mini-cow, maybe? –from Novella’s excellent blog Ghost Town Farm
All it takes is a little inspiration, some hard work, and a love of chickens!