I just finished a pretty quirky book about a girl from Washington (state not district) that moves to Oakland and rents an apartment on the “2-8″, a street that was known for gunfights, crack dealers and homeless camps, and starts growing food on an abandoned lot.
The book, Farm City by Novella Carpenter is a true story of Novella’s adventures in urban farming. She starts with growing veggies on the abandoned lot, then gets chickens, then bees, then turkeys, ducks and rabbits, and finally two huge pigs.
The book was kinda funny and I learned a bit about raising farm animals to produce meat. But something didn’t sit right with me as far as her intentions for doing it. She was aware of the problems in her neighborhood and that her urban farm project could benefit others, and she did give some lettuce to local Black Panthers and shared food with neighbors. But I kept wondering why she didn’t do more. I know not everyone has a humanitarian streak and everyone deserves the right to just do for themselves; to learn and experiment. But I couldn’t help but think that she was missing a big point of the work that she was doing.
She had the opportunity to teach, share more, partner up with organizations in her neighborhood that are fighting for food justice and health. And yet her intentions seemed so centered around herself.
I hate to be so hard on her. And maybe I am missing the point. After all, she did publish this book about her experience, and although her intentions for publishing the book may not have been much more than getting all those quirky stories down, she is adding to the urban food voice and educating people like me on raising turkeys, bees and pigs, so I can’t hold it against her too much.
Thanks to Ouida for giving me this book as a gift before I left DC!!