Sunday, February 27, 2011

My trip to Ghost Town Farm in Oakland

I started reading Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.  One of Taylor's co-workers had suggested the book to him, so I bounded down to the public library and checked it out.  The author's name is Novella Carpender, a woman who moved with her boyfriend from Seattle to Oakland.  And I'm not talking about the Oakland hills or Lake Merrit, no no, I'm talking the ghetto.  Novella writes about keeping chickens, receiving a box full of baby ducks and turkeys, raising bees and then mourning their mysterious death, growing a huge "squat" garden on the vacant lot next to her apartment, and raising rabbits for meat.  It's a hilarious and poignant story, full of humor and moments of clarity that had me personally thinking about my experiences here on our own little homestead. 

After getting half way through her book, I decided to see if Novella had a blog, and indeed she does.  Her blog,, is all about her life, her tours, and even better, her pop-up farm stand and fundraisers she puts on.  I was checking out this blog last Wednesday, and it just so happened that she was hosting a fundraiser/pop up farm stand/party in the garden soiree on that following Sunday, 2/27.  Taylor had to work, but I decided to make the short trek across the bay and check out her garden and hopefully get to meet her.  It was a really interesting event and I'm so glad I went.  I heard Novella speaking to a group of about twenty people, talking about gardening, testing the soil, keeping rabbits and bees.  She was fielding everybody's questions and taking the time to sign copies of her book and talk individually to people.  I bought a Ghost Town Farm tee shirt, a book about the roots (no pun intended) urban farming, and a bunch of chard.  I then got in line and waited my turn to meet Novella and ask her about keeping bees and rabbits, which are our next ventures.  She was very charming and kind and full of information.  I kind of felt a little like a sycophant, but eventually got over it and just basked in the sunshine in her corner-lot garden on a street corner on MLK in Oakland.  Life can be so wonderfully random at time.

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