When you saw the words 'book review' did you have a flashback to grade nine when you had to write your last book report? Yeah, me too. I would say this isn't technically a book review, it is more a means where I share my absolute favourite books that have either led me on, or helped me with, my homesteading journey.
Farm City - The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
Most people have a running list they keep of their favourite books. For a long time, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving was number one on my list. So many others have moved up and down that list without ever knocking number one out of place. That was until I read Farm City by Novella Carpenter.
How I Found This Book
I first heard about Novella Carpenter after googling "urban farming videos" and coming across this video. Instant crush. She is doing something incredibly simple (growing food), that people have been doing for ages, but she chooses to go against the societal grain instead of following the path of least resistance (ie. buying produce in a store and all of others life's conveniences.) And she is doing it in Oakland. She is growing food in Oakland where no one else is growing food and in vacant lots. And she is not just growing tomatoes and cucumbers, she is growing all her own produce AND chickens AND rabbits. So I kept googling, found her book and bought it right away.
Novella's (first name basis, I wish) memoir is hilarious with stories of escaped turkeys, dumpster diving for pig food, catching a bee hive in the wild, skinning rabbits, and more. Her book spoke to this part of me that was searching for a more gratifying lifestyle, and she is living it! She is honest. An excellent writer. Wear cords, well probably. And wrote this page turner about how she got this urban farm started and what it was like. I could not have loved it more.
Each night before bed, I would read a chapter aloud so Cam could enjoy it too. And every once and a while, when I could not wait any longer, I would sneak a chapter in during the day, and later on after he found out, he would be so sad because he wanted to know what happened.
I would rate this book a five out of five. It just bumped John Irving from the list.*
More on Novella
Novella has since co-written an instructional book on the how-to's of urban farming called The Essential Urban Farmer. I haven't read it all yet, but the instructions on skinning a rabbit are included if you are interested. But in all seriousness, it also has everything you need to know to plan out your urban farm. She also has a blog called Ghost Town Farms, where she divulges her urban farming journey in her open and honest manner. I'll have to add that to my list of books to read before I start this summer's garden.
*Yep, that was my whole review. Short and sweet.