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Extended Audio Sample Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Audiobook, by Novella Carpenter Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (4,612 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Novella Carpenter Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781400182985
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Novella Carpenter loves cities-the culture, the crowds, the energy. At the same time, she can't shake the fact that she is the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables. Ambivalent about repeating her parents' disastrous mistakes, yet drawn to the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Carpenter decided that it might be possible to have it both ways: a homegrown vegetable plot as well as museums, bars, concerts, and a twenty-four-hour convenience mart mere minutes away. Especially when she moved to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door. She closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop. What started out as a few egg-laying chickens led to turkeys, geese, and ducks. Soon, some rabbits joined the fun, then two 300-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals weren't pets; she was a farmer, not a zookeeper. Novella was raising these animals for dinner. Novella Carpenter's corner of downtown Oakland is populated by unforgettable characters. Lana (anal spelled backward, she reminds us) runs a speakeasy across the street and refuses to hurt even a fly, let alone condone raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Bobby, the homeless man who collects cars and car parts just outside the farm, is an invaluable neighborhood concierge. The turkeys, Harold and Maude, tend to escape on a daily basis to cavort with the prostitutes hanging around just off the highway nearby. Every day on this strange and beautiful farm, urban meets rural in the most surprising ways. For anyone who has ever grown herbs on their windowsill or tomatoes on their fire escape, or who has obsessed over the offerings at the local farmers' market, Carpenter's story will capture your heart. And if you've ever considered leaving it all behind to become a farmer outside the city limits or looked at the abandoned lot next door with a gleam in your eye, consider this both a cautionary tale and a full-throated call to action. Farm City is an unforgettably charming memoir, full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmers' tips, and a great deal of heart. It is also a moving meditation on urban life versus the natural world and what we have given up to live the way we do. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Utterly enchanting book…Her way with narrative and details, like the oddly poetic names of chicken and watermelon breeds, gives her memoir an Annie Dillard lyricism, but it’s the juxtaposition of the farming life with inner-city grit that elevates it to the realm of the magical.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Utterly enchanting.... The juxtaposition of the farming life with inner-city grit...elevates it to the realm of the magical. Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen Love | 1/20/2014

    " A quick, enjoyable read. There are points when she tries too hard to establish her hippie/hipster/slow food cred, but overall, the book left me with warm feelings about Oakland and a nagging curiosity about what it would be like to get my own urban meat by butchering the fat geese at lake merritt. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julianne | 1/8/2014

    " Inspiring for the urban farming wanna-be. Got me thinking about how much more I could grow in our yard and what it means to be personally responsible for the things that you eat. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 12/31/2013

    " Brilliant, funny and inspiring - I lend this one out a lot. Autobiographical account of a woman who sets up a mini-farm on some land behind her house in downtown Oakland. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eva | 12/30/2013

    " i want to be novella carpenter. at least the urban farmer part. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie Painter | 12/23/2013

    " This book was great! Read how she raises 2 pigs in an urban backyard in Oakland, CA, mostly on dumpster scraps. An urban farming must read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shawn | 12/14/2013

    " Fun and educational it made me want to do more to feed my self and not fell so bad about not feeding my self all at the same time. This book is the funnest gardening book i have ever read, "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ty | 12/12/2013

    " I haven't been very good at sleeping lately, so for a while this is what I was reading in the middle of the night when I didn't want to think about anything or have any emotions. It's about a lady in Oakland who has a garden and some bees and chickens and ducks and turkeys and rabbits and pigs. Towards the end I realized she was giving away quite a bit of her eggs and honey and vegetables, and I wondered if maybe I ought to be a more generous person. As soon as I wondered this I fell asleep. When I went out to water my garden the next morning, I noticed that several of my tomatoes had been stolen. Generosity was being forced on me. A few days later I was mowing my lawn and my lawnmower kept dying so one of my neighbors who I've never talked to before came over to try to help me. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with it so he just let me borrow his and while we were talking his kid (I guess it was his kid) wandered over by my tomato plants and stroked the leaves. "That one just looooves tomatoes" his dad or whatever said. I have a suspect that I can't be mad at. He's like two years old and rides a tricycle and chews on a Silver Surfer action figure all day. Maybe if he keeps taking all my tomatoes his dad will feel obligated to let me use his lawnmower every week. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leanna | 12/11/2013

    " Bought it on my Kindle and made it through the first chapter "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 12/6/2013

    " Novella Carpenter is a self-proclaimed nut, and I really enjoyed reading about her adventures in Urban Farming. Great read, and hopefully a good motivator for me to build some garden beds. And maybe my dog Lebowski needs some friends. Chickens? A goat? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 G | 10/28/2013

    " Even this vegetarian liked it quite a bit. Probably because I spent a summer living not too far away in Oakland. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah Carter | 9/10/2013

    " awesome stories of urban farming! loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 American | 8/4/2013

    " I enjoyed this book, but I am very happy these people do not live next door to me! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy Titus | 5/15/2013

    " Those of you that know about my little urban chicken farming project will understand my love for this book. It was hysterical at times but on a more serious note it made me think alot about where the food on my table comes from. After you read it, you may want a hen or two of your own! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dustin | 3/14/2013

    " This books makes me miss living in the Bay Area. We lived in south Berkeley, just a couple of miles from the Ghost Town Farm. I found the authors style to be engaging, funny, edgy and enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with a green thumb and an open mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn Jensen | 2/28/2013

    " Very light read, great for summer. Certainly makes you want to plant a garden. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jackie Lee | 1/27/2013

    " This was a fantastic look at eating local and urban farming. It makes me let go of all the excuses if she can do it in a city I can surely do it in the country! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hlry | 3/1/2012

    " there was a lot of killing in this book. but it was cute and charming killing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele | 1/2/2012

    " Wonderfully entertaining... my brain knows that Novella grew up around gardens/farms, but reading about her experience has me convinced that I could succeed with an urban farm as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 10/15/2011

    " another food book about urban farming. funny! funny! funny! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anastasia | 5/20/2011

    " Very inspirational. I especially enjoyed the parts about her gardens, beekeeping, and the urban farmer lifestyle. I wouldn't necessarily recommend to vegetarians -- there's a lot in the book about raising animals for food (butchering, etc). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 5/9/2011

    " At the beginning I was giving this one 3 stars but as I progressed it turned into 5 and now I want to know if she's written anything else. This lady really knows how to write. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 5/9/2011

    " Oakland Ca. is an unlikely place to raise chickens, rabbits and pigs in an urban back yard. Timely, cute story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/8/2011

    " Very frank and funny--a little like a love letter to a neighborhood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 5/6/2011

    " Loved it. Funny, light and educational. I may be partial since I live in Oakland and have a garden and chickens! None the less, she's a great writer! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/4/2011

    " I worked with Novella a few times at Cody's books. I'm impressed with her writing. She's clear and witty, but very good at describing what her urban farm education was like.
    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elisa | 4/24/2011

    " OK, I started to just get grossed out and wigged out imagining her life...the dumpster diving for food for her animals kind of got me. But it was a fun read full of compelling characters, not least of which were some of the animals. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 4/20/2011

    " People are getting tired of me quoting "chickens are the gateway farm animal" My city has a ban on chickens or maybe I would try. This is an interesting story about a city garden. There are some good lessons about connecting with the food we eat and it is a funny book too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 4/19/2011

    " Set in Oakland so it is fun to hear about the neighboring city and know the places she discusses. Enjoyable book, especially if you have dreams of growing food for yourself in the city. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 4/13/2011

    " Good book that makes me want to get off my butt and into a garden. So much to learn but I feel a strong tug to get my hands in the dirt and to make something grow. "

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About the Author
Author Novella Carpenter

Novella Carpenter is the author of the bestselling Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer and is the coauthor of The Essential Urban Farmer. She lives and farms in Oakland, California, with her partner, Billy, and their daughter, Francis.

About the Narrator

Karen White is a classically trained actress who has been recording audiobooks since 1999. An Audie Award finalist, she has earned eight AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her reading of The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed was named one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2009.