Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Farm City

Novella Carpenter spent the first few years of her life on an Idaho ranch with her back to the land parents, seeing what that kind of isolation can do to a relationship.  She shakes her head, mystified, when city friends muse longingly about their dream of a perfect place in the country.  But at the same time she loves the idea of growing her own food.  So when she and her boyfriend move to a gritty neighbourhood in Oakland she starts up a garden in the abandoned lot next door.  At GhostTown Farm she grows her own vegetables and expands to include honeybees, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and eventually a couple of pigs.  She gains a true and deep respect for the food she eats.  Her book Farm City is a wonderful chronicle of her urban farm experience.  She proves you can enjoy homegrown food while enjoying the city life at the same time.

When we used to live in a little ramshackle farmhouse there were lots of idyllic country moments like harvesting from the garden in the evening while a watercolour sunset spread across the western sky, a roaring fire in the woodstove on a winter night as the wind whipped through the jack pines.  But then thoughts drift to foreign films at the old rep cinema, the used bookstore open til midnight, going down to the corner for a falafel, just taking a simple neighbourhood walk where you might see old Italian guys playing bocce or a group of Chinese women doing tai chi or a cat strolling a mural-splashed alleyway; taste banh mi, an empanada, a lassi; hear snatches of five different songs in the space of one block.  Just the everyday parade of city life.  So I really enjoyed Novella's story of how she is able to thoroughly embrace the ideals of both ways of life.

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