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Urban Farming Essentials: Authors of a New, Definitive Guide Tell All

After Novella Carpenter’s critically acclaimed memoir Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer came out, she and friend Willow Rosenthal, the founder of West Oakland gardening nonprofit City Slicker Farms, started talking about compiling a manual on urban gardening. “We always got these random emails like, ‘My chickens aren’t laying anymore!’” says Carpenter. So she and Rosenthal joked that they should write a book so they could reply: “Buy the book!”

Three years later, they can. Their new book, The Essential Urban Farmer, is a 500-page nuts-and-bolts guide to farming in the city–complete with sample garden designs, detailed illustrations, and photos of rabbit genitalia. Rosenthal, who is also a Waldorf School teacher and runs a small CSA in Berkeley, wrote the first two sections of the book: “Designing Your Urban Farm” and “Raising City Vegetables and Fruits.” Carpenter wrote the section called “Raising City Animals.” With advice on how to fix a chicken’s prolapsed “vent,” and a detailed how-to on eviscerating a chicken, it’s not for the squeamish. But then, neither is raising livestock.

I talked to Carpenter and Rosenthal recently about the guide, and got some tips about  how to create a thriving urban farm. Read more

Faith-Based Urban Farm Opens in Berkeley

Sunday marked the grand opening of Urban Adamah, the first faith-based, modern urban farm in West Berkeley, at 1050 Parker Street near San Pablo Avenue, opposite Fantasy Studios. The one-acre farm with Jewish roots offers a residential fellowship program for young adults, summer camps for kids and teens, and plans to help feed the needy in the community. Read more

Farm City: Gardening In The Ghetto

If you liked Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, my guess is that you will love Novella Carpenter’s new book, Farm City: The Education of An Urban Farmer. I found it to be both grittier and funnier than Kingsolver’s book and even easier to read.

The book chronicles Carpenter’s somewhat unintentional experience of creating a “squat garden” in the vacant lot next to her apartment building in Ghosttown, which is what she and the other residents call their rundown neighborhood located near downtown Oakland. Read more