Hannibal Free Public Library

Farm City:
The Education of an Urban Farmer

Novella Carpenter

May 23,2011

Food writer Novella Carpenter grew a squatter's vegetable garden in one of the worst parts of the Bay Area.  Her urban farming adventures evolved into further adventures in bee and poultry keeping.  Success with a Thanksgiving turkey spurred Carpenter to rabbitry and a month-long plan to eat from her own garden.

A child of back-to-the-land hippies, the author grew up in Idaho and Washington State . She attended the University of Washington in Seattle where she majored in Biology and English.  She has cultivated an urban farm in the city for over ten years She says, “My neighbors still think I’m crazy. It all started with a few chickens, then some bees, until I had a full-blown farm near downtown Oakland .”

Discussion Questions:

1.  Novella describes her neighborhood in Oakland as fraught with drug dealers and murders. She is afraid to walk anywhere. Why did she move there?

2.  Why doesn’t she move to the country?

3.  Is Novella’s farm really a farm?

4.  Novella seems concerned about being called a hippie although she calls a number of other people in the book hippies.  If she isn’t a hippie, what is she?

5.  Have you ever squatted land?

6.  Is it possible we will see this type of activity in our city?

7.  Which animal is the most memorable?

8.  How much of what Novella does would you be comfortable doing?

9.  How much of what Novella does would you do if
you had to?

10. Why does Novella farm?

Adapted from Manitowoc Public Library and Reed Business Information