Category Archives: farm city

Open Farm Tour, Food, and Demos: August 29

FYI: no need to RSVP!

I’m really excited about the Eat Real Festival to be held in Oakland August 28-30. There’s going to be sustainably-raised meat taco trucks, dinners held at restaurants that feature produce from urban farms like City Slicker and People’s Grocery, ice cream cones and a beer garden.

A lot of people have emailed me to say they’re coming to town for the festival and they’d like a tour of Ghosttown Farm. So I figured, hell, let’s make a whole day of it, with demonstrations, tours, bookselling, and a campfire where I burn all the wood and branches that have accumulated on the property. And it’ll be a good excuse for me to clean-up the damn place. And you can all laugh at my pink and red house (thank you my landlord).

Here’s the schedule:

10am

Chicken Slaughter Workshop

Many people who keep chickens recognize that one day they will need to cull a member of their flock. In this demo we will show best practices for killing the bird humanely, how to pluck, clean, and rest the bird for the dinner table. Chef Samin Nosrat will then demonstrate how to butcher a chicken quickly and efficiently into eight pieces and make a rich stock with its carcass. The class will also include a cooking demonstration with tips on how to season, roast, braise and grill so that you can extract maximum flavor from your backyard bird, as well as recipes for using all the offal, heads and feet so that none of your bird goes to waste.

Noon

Farm Tour and book signing

I will give a tour of the farmlette, telling the story of GhostTown Farm, which has played host to turkeys, ducks, geese, and pigs. It now features rabbits, chickens, bees, and goats. I can sign copies of Farm City and books will be for sale.

1pm

Farm Snacks

Just-picked food from the garden will be plated up and served a la carte in the garden. Items will depend on what’s ripe in the garden but most likely will include heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, green beans, homegrown eggs, goat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and local honey. Donations are encouraged.

3pm

Goat How-to

Many city people are becoming more interested in goat husbandry. I’ll explain how I raise my goats, the trials and tribulations of goat ownership, and give a hands-on demonstration of how to milk a Nigerian Dwarf goat, and a demo of how to trim hooves.

5pm

Farm Tour, II

Same thing, different time.

7pm-10pm

Open Grill

Bring something from your farmstead (or the store) to drink and grill. We’ll have a campfire and a bbq set up for whatever you want to cook. Mostly, though, we’ll just relax and meet each other, and talk about the day’s events with a big smile.

Here it is in a nutshell:

what: GhostTown Farm Tour, Food and Demo

where: 665 28th street, oakland, ca (at mlk)

when: Saturday, August 29, 10am-10pm, see sked above for exact times

how much: free, but donations gladly accepted

Coming to a Town Near You?

I wish I had the gumption (and could convince the goats, rabbits, hens, and bees) to load up into a car and drive around the US of A to promote urban farming. Based on some of the comments you’ve sent from places like DC, Philly, San Diego, and Boston, I would be welcomed with open arms. That sure is a good feeling. I was in Los Angeles yesterday and couldn’t believe how many people were into urban farming and wanted to show me their farms and learn more about what I’ve been up to–but there just wasn’t enough time.

And so hatched the DIY Farm City Tour idea.

My dear publisher paid for me to go to Seattle, Portland, New York, and Los Angeles. But I want to see what’s doing in Chicago, Boston, Detroit, St. Paul, etc, etc, etc–I want to see urban farms all over America! But how will I pay for that?

That’s where you come in. If you’d like me to come to your town, please send me an email at novella.carpenter at gmail, or just comment belo with ideas. Let me know if you’d like me to teach a class about chickens, rabbits, or just give a reading from my book. Include the names of bookstores or spaces where workshops could happen in your town. I’m targeting October as the perfect month for the DIY tour.

In a nugget:

What: Novella in your town, teaching or talking about urban farming

How: She’ll need to raise money to cover airfare (you and your friends have to promise to put money in the hat or hold a fundraiser or charge for a cool class that I’ll teach)

How 2: She’ll sleep on your couch

Where: urban farms in your city, bookstores, master gardener classes, universities even

When: October-November

Please send me proposals, ideas, criticism, as soon as possible so I can start contacting venues and setting up dates. The ideal is to pair up with a local bookstore so they can sell copies of my book.

novellabooksigning

Can’t wait to meet you! And yes, that is a fake smile that I promise not to make when I’m in your town.

New York, New York

Fun fact: I once was a maid in New York City. Well, Park Slope. If my employers could only see my kitchen floor now–all spotted with sauerkraut drippings, goat berries, and drifts of straw–actually, they would not be surprised at all because I was a terrible, awful, sad, underpaid, lonely maid. When I last spent real time in NYC, I had been broke, kind of gimpy from a bike accident, and utterly overwhelmed by the city.

Last week I returned to the city that nearly killed me! Still broke, but walking fine, and no, not overwhelmed at all. I used to think the goal in New York was to look like I knew what I was doing: to know which side of the subway door to depart from, to walk with real purpose, to never appear lost. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten older, but this time around, none of that mattered. I was happily confused to ride the Air Train and not know how to pay. I was glad to repeatedly miss the free Ikea ferry to Red Hook. I often walked in circles in the Lower East side, and even ate at a terrible, fake “diner” where I paid too much for coffee and a bad (even in NYC!) bagel.

I was in New York to promote my book for two days, just a quick in and out. I had the fun experience of running (in clogs) down Avenue of the Americas because I was late to a talk at Bryant Park. It was a green panel discussion held during the lunch hour. I barely made it there by 12:30, gently sweating as I met my fellow panelists, the guy from Terracycle, an editor from Edible Brooklyn, and an environmentalist author of Sleeping Naked is Green. A business suit guy yelled when he heard the title of her book and came up to her during the panel discussion so she could sign his copy of the book. I talked about children growing carrots, and somehow, pot.

That night, I ventured into Brooklyn, a place where I had washed sheets and scrubbed counters, stolen cheese, subsisted on peanut butter. My reading was on a rooftop farm in Greenpoint. The farmer, Ben, is the real deal. He has 6,000 square feet of vegetables performing mightily: eggplants, cucs, tomatoes, herbs. They sell to restaurants and at a farm stand. The roof was treated like any green roof, Ben explained, many layers, membranes, water collection/diversion channels. But instead of planting grasses and flowers, they hauled in tons of compost, mixed it with perlite, and created French intensive-style beds to grow veggies.

The farm is above the Brooklyn Kitchen, a retro kitchenware store and place that teaches classes about such things as cheesemaking and canning. They set up a table and handed out bread with goat cheese and fresh vegetables from the garden. I had my prosciutto with me and shaved off bits to share with the 40 or so people. Then I read some from my book, looking out at the Manhattan skyline whenever I dared glance up from the pages. It did feel like a victory. To come back to a place that had kicked my ass, to return as a published author, and to be reading to a rapt audience.

That night I had insomnia and called Bill to remind him to make sure the male rabbit had enough water. It was 4:45am in New York, only 2am in Oakland. “Are you awake?” I asked. “I was just about to fall asleep!” Bill yelled. I told him I had remembered about the rabbit, and was worried because it had been so hot out, and then hung up. I still couldn’t go to sleep. I could hear New York waking up in my hotel on 54th Street, the big trucks rumbling around, the tour buses gearing up for another day on the town. Maybe I was nervous because later that day, I was going to go on the Leonard Lopate show, a live radio show at WNYC, and then I would fly home.

Later that day, while I answered Lopate’s questions, I tripped out that I was here, in NYC, telling people about Oakland, about my little farm, my daily chores, what the neighbors thought of me (I still don’t really know), what animals I had now, and who was taking care of the animals in my absence. I had a rush of total sadness, as I recited the things doing in the East Bay. And when I returned home late Friday night, the first thing I did was go out to the goats, corraled them into the sleeping area, shut the gate, made plans for morning milking, and felt a sudden relief as if I had been holding my breath in New York the whole time I was there.

Tour recap

A wise person advised me to keep a journal about my book tour–writing down the names of people I met, things I saw, and questions that were asked. Of course I didn’t do it. Much to my regret.

Here’s what I remember, very hazily: Flew to Portland and went to KBOO for a radio interview (never heard it). Dinner at Paley’s Place (rabbit raviolis) with my uncle and aunt (delish). Met up with Lana and Bill at my hotel. So good to see her. She brought her grandmother’s  tweezers. Which we employed that next morning as I had to go on Northwest AM–a television show–and couldn’t do so with my beard. Lana also cut my hair that morning, to the horror of room service. Met an urban farmer in Portland randomly (we just drove up, she came outside and gave us a tour). Her garden–Kung Fu Farm–put mine to shame. To shame! Lots of chickens. Read at Powell’s to a nice audience and offered people prosciutto (if they bought a book!).

Bombed into Seattle around 1:20am after my reading in Portland. Billy was demanding Dick’s burgers, so we stopped in and had a deluxe and milkshake. Stayed on my friend’s floor for the next three days. Read at the beautiful Town Hall. Met people from Grist. Rode my friend’s bike to Third Place Books. Interview with KUOW. Ate Thai food. Did a conversation/dinner/chocolate reading with Warren Etheridge. We mostly talked about growing pot. He’s great.

Went to my hometown of Shelton where I recuperated and my mom fed me in between naps. Her rural town garden is really going great guns, and she’s thinking about bees. Flew home the next day. Arrived home to see that our landlord painted the house pink and red, the goats were thirsty, and the garden just looked okay compared to what I had seen in the great Northwest.

Also: took zero photos. I’m an ass.

Tomorrow, July 1 (rabbit, rabbit) I’ll be on It’s Your Call with Rose Aguilar at 10am on KALW (call in with some love, ok?), then reading at Green Arcade books on Market, a new awesome bookstore filled with green living and nature titles.  It’s right by Zuni. 7pm.

July 2, I’ll be at Copperfields in Sebastopol. Might bring my extractor and do a demo.

Finally, Michael Jackson: RIP. I really loved you. And I’m so sorry.

My new baby…

Oh yeah: if you’d like to hear me read from the baby, check this calendar for tour info. thanks!-nc

This week, on Thursday, a new baby will be born on Ghosttown Farm: my book, Farm City!

babybook

I guess it has already been born: 25 copies arrived to my house  in all their hardcover splendor the other day. Since then, I’ve been playing with the book (undressing it from its dust jacket, admiring its red and green interior, the special mole the publisher embossed on it, before putting its dust jacket back on) and really getting to know it again (typo on page 42).

undressing

Of course, others have had sneak previews of my baby, and made their comments. See here for the Publisher’s Weekly review. The NYTimes book review even mentioned it in a summer reading round-up. Of course, some people are feeling negative, as we see here with the library journal who didn’t think I’m funny, no not one bit. Oh well–you can’t please everyone, right?

This week, the book bambino will start its tour and I’ll be showing off the babe, warts and all, at the following locations:

June 13, Biofuel Oasis, 1441 Ashby Ave,  7:30pm. This is our biofuel station slash bookstore slash feed store located on Ashby and Sacramento in South Berkeley. We’ve assembled a group of urban ag experts to be on hand and pass out information. Also: goat cheese, homemade olives, and beer! We’ll be showing a trailer of Edible City and I’ll be doing a slideshow about GT Farm and reading from Farm City.

June 15, Booksmith 1644 Haight Street in SF at 7:30pm. They even planted some herbs and lettuce in their window for a cool book display!

June 16, Eccolo restaurant on 4th Street in Berkeley, book release party! Featuring produce grown on Bay Area urban farms and a dramatic opening of the prosciutto I made with chef Chris Lee. Should be epic. Nima from Analog books will be there to sell Farm City.

June 18, Berkeley, in conversation with Michael Pollan as part of the Berkeley Arts and Lectures author series. First Congregational Church, 7:30, $10 at door.

Hope to see you at a few of these events–each one will be different and special. And I promise to sign the baby’s armpit for you.

undress

Happy New Year

Yep, I turned 36 yesterday.

The best gift by far was talking to my long-lost friend Maura. For two hours we caught up on the last four years. She’s so rad–she has adopted four kids! My hero. It made me think–what have I been up to?

I guess taking care of animals, and writing this book

cover

which is now in the Penguin Press summer catalog; if you want to check it out, you can download the whole catalog:

booksellers.penguin.com/static/pdf/penguinpress-summer09.pdf

Happy New Year!!