Sunday, November 15, 2009

Farm City

There's not much going on in the garden these days, thanks to Mr. Groundhog. Once he polished off all the brassicas he moved on the to the nice baby lettuces I thought were hidden under the asparagus fronds, chewed the chard plants right down to the roots, and he's even eaten the parsley! So far, at least, he hasn't discovered a taste for leeks, so we've still been able to harvest those for fall meals. For now, the only real garden-related activity I've been doing is planning for next year (more about that later.)

This leaves me time for reading, and I've just finished a great little book: Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter. This is the inspiring and hilarious true story of how Novella turned an empty lot in a blighted neighborhood in Oakland, California, into a real urban farm, complete with chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, rabbits, and two pigs! The fact that she was able to feed all of these critters (that would ultimately feed her) with excellent food she foraged right out of the dumpsters of her city says a lot about the waste in our society. (Makes an urban farm seem like not such a crazy idea after all!) And as a result of her dumpster-diving she got to meet a chef, learn his charcuterie secrets and together they transformed one of her pigs into these magical foods. Novella Carpenter tells her story with such humble, self-deprecating humor that it's easy to overlook the breadth of her accomplishments. Not only did she raise food for herself and her friends, but she brought people in her dicey neighborhood together as a result of her project. Great food for thought! Now I'm REALLY inspired to get my chickens next year!


novella said...

hey there! thanks for the lovely post and for calling me oakland's hugh fearnley-whittingstall on my blog. i LOVE that guy!!
keep up the growing. i might be headed to philly for the paperback book tour, you'll have to tell me where to go and who to meet!

Jeannine from Pittsburgh said...

Hi Novella,

Thanks for the comment! I'm a huge Hugh fan too! Never been to Philly, but we'd love to have you here in Pittsburgh! Thanks for sharing your adventures in urban farming--you're an inspiration!


Seitan Samurai said...

As a vegetarian for 18 years on account of our hideous factory farming system, I have to say I fully approve of and applaud this. There is a growing trend towards returning to real food and to re-establishing an actual connection with what we eat that is just awesome to see.
It was alarming to see tens of thousands of years of animal husbandry skills disappearing nearly overnight, not to mention the loss of food preservation and preparation techniques that were not only key to our survival as a species, but an epicurean art of the highest order.
Hopefully, this book will inspire a lot of other people to return to wholesome food raising practices, or even to seek out and support those in their area that are doing so rather than just heading down to the supermarket for a quick fix.