Monthly Archives: March 2011


Hello everyone! Know that I’m holding up okay, mostly because of your words of support, and the love I’m getting from my friends and neighbors. Some quick clarifications before I go on with this post:

1. i’m getting in trouble for selling the chard. it is legal to grow vegetables and have various livestock in Oakland, so don’t freak out. the fact that i’ve been selling it is the issue. of course i would argue that my farmstand is by suggested donation.

2. i haven’t been fined, just threatened. like all good citizens, i’ll just wait to hear from the Man.

3.  I’ve heard that April 14 there may be some new rules about the selling of produce, so I’ll be fine and we’ll have gotten worked up about nothing.

Back to the post: This morning I went to Brother’s Market to get Mosed to take my rooster (I’m sure I’ll get busted for that soon as I’m under the microscope now–none of my neighbors have complained), and told him about what was happening. He’s really pissed, “You don’t sell!” he yelled. “We just come and pick, for the community.” I’ll probably make up a petition for people in the neighborhood to sign. Then I went to pick some weeds for my rabbits.

After I fed them, I read some email, and got a really scary one. The woman asked that I didn’t use her name, but here’s the story:

I believe that I probably know whomever filed the complaint about you, that they are probably an animal rights person, most likely a house-rabbit person who volunteers with animals at the Oakland Animal Shelter. I used to volunteer there with rabbits, and there was a feeling of horror among the other rabbit workers that you were breeding them for meat. Some of them are vegan, but others are just rabbit-lovers. They said they were going to complain about it to the city. That was a year ago, more or less. They crowed at one point because maybe your goats were forced off-site? I disagreed with them, because I think a person can love animals AND also conduct local farming, including eating your own animals. But they were VERY firm that eating rabbits was somewhere in the realm of murder, and I never said anything. Frankly I was afraid they would run me out of there on a pole. Their attitudes, along with my full schedule, led me away from volunteering at the Shelter eventually.

Now I feel guilty for having said nothing, because it sounds like they have finally made good on their promise. Honestly I don’t think it would have done any good for me to speak up. Those who were most horrified about the rabbits would have done it anyway. There might have been one or 2 other non-extremists like me, and I wish I had spoken up for their benefit.So they would see they are not monolithic. I also feel guilty for not having sent you some kind of warning, but I don’t know you, and I didn’t know if it would sound nuts. “The rabbit people are after you!”? And what could you do anyway?

This is pretty much what I figured, a rabbit person who hates me for growing my own food, lodged the complaint. I was sure it wasn’t a NIMBY neighbor, because we all get along.

I’m going to fight, but before that I’m letting myself cry a lot. Especially when I get messages like this:

We are all military wives stuck in Fort Polk Louisiana, all three of us were sad beyond words and then one day I picked up your book.
We have now started our own little garden on my two acre lot in the middle of a housing area. 🙂
We get bees this weekend and will have chickens and rabbits by the end of the summer.
I wonder if you know, really know, how your life, your writing and just who you are inspires and touches people.
Dont give up!! If you need us to do a bake sale to raise money for you, sell some of our seedlings or even do a yard sale, we will be more than happy to help you in any way we can. You have a huge support system that you might not have even known was there. 🙂

Amen for you all.


Farmstand Canceled Due to… the City of Oakland

I thought I was just being paranoid, but it looks like the City of Oakland workers do read my blog (hi guys!) and will be coming to the pop up farmstand to bust me for illegal activities.

Here’s the deal: After getting off the plane from Salt Lake City and making my way home to a cup of tea, I sit down at my kitchen table and I see this guy in a City of Oakland car taking photos of my garden. I go down and he said I’m out of compliance for “agricultural activities”. I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use Permit for growing chard. The annual fee: $2500.

Last year, when I bought my lot, I went to the planning department to find out what I needed to get a business license and all that stuff. The very nice planning person told me that by the spring, the City of Oakland would be changing the laws about urban agriculture in the city, so I should just wait. Guess that hasn’t happened.

The photo taking city guy said they are going to use me as an example, and that I’ll get fined around $5000 for non-compliance. All of this was triggered by one person, who complained to the animal control, who then passed it on to the city, who is now making my life hell. I said to the guy–one person caused this, that’s not fair. “Life’s not fair,” he replied. What about City Slicker Farms? Or People’s Grocery? I asked, two urban farming non-profits in Oakland. No one has complained about them. And they say one person can’t make a difference!

Then the city guy told me I can fight it and be part of the discussion about how the laws are shaped. Well guess what city worker–you get paid an hourly wage to deal with this crap. If I play with the city, I’ll have to spend countless hours of my time (making it my 4th low paying/no paying job) so you can have a new law to enforce when one person (with money and power probably) complains about about another person’s private activities. I just want to grow food for myself and other people, I don’t want to go to meetings and speak bureaucrat talk.

The up-shot is: the Pop-up Farmstand is canceled until further notice, and I’m not going to post about my activities on this blog (I’ll still write about the farm, just not announce events). If you want to be added to my private email list to find out about events/tours/pop up farmstands, email me at myname with a statement about who you are and why you want to be added.

Do It Again: March 30

I heard it’s going to be 67 degrees and sunny next Wednesday, and I really will need to sell some cilantro, greens, and fava beans. So let’s try again for the Urban Farmstand, 4pm-7pm. There won’t be tours, but I’ll bring the goats around for people to admire, and I’ll open up the new, gorgeous chicken coop for people to explore.

To recap:

When: Wednesday, March 30, 4-7pm

Where: 665 28th street (park on MLK or ride your bike)

Why: Sun.

See y’all there!

P.S. I’ll tell you the police story in private–big brother is watching…

P.P.S. Let me know if you want to bring some produce to sell.

Spring Events

Howdy and happy spring. Did you know it’s really not just spring, but halfway thru spring? Either way, the winds knocked over my pea trellises, and the rain has beaten up my fava beans. The ducks and chickens are destroying my carefully made beds. Nature is against me! But I can’t complain, this rain means more salad mix, plumper radishes, better germination for my carrots–I hope.

So, sorry about the canceled farm stand. I want to schedule another one but it’s getting crazy around here. Here’s where I’ll be in the next few days and weeks:

March 26 Hayward Main Library, 2pm. Hayward chose Farm City as their community read!

March 28 Salt Lake City, Westminster College, 7pm public talk

March 31 Alameda Public Library, 7pm. Alameda chose Farm City as their community read!

April 1 San Francisco’s Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street 6:30pm. I’ll be there doing the Bookswap! Buy tickets here. I’ll be dressed as a donkey.

April 3, Urban Farm Tour, Biofuel Oasis 9:30-2pm. I’ll be guiding the tour with Serena Barlett, to buy tickets, go here.

April 6, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo 5pm-7pm. Farm City is Cuesta’s book of the year! Woot!

April 7, SLO, Steynberg Gallery, 11-1:30pm.

April 13, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, 7pm

April 17, Teaching Raising Chickens class at the Biofuel Oasis, 2pm-5pm.

April 19, Minnesota, M State-Moorhead, 4pm free public lecture

April 28, Seattle, Washington Hall, part of the Essential Arts Art and Agriculture program, 7pm

May 14 Hayward Ochoa Garden. Remember how Farm City was chosen as Hayward’s community read? The librarians and Hayward Public schools are working together to do a garden work day on May 14, 10am-1pm. I’ll be there, hoe-ing.

See ya!

Forecast calls for rain

I feel like I’m living in Seattle again. Why won’t the rain stop? I know it’s good for the plants, but in moderation. I looked at the weather report and it looks like this Wednesday, March 23, it will rain. So I’m canceling my Farm Stand scheduled for that day. Plus, I’m getting heat from the police–more on that later. To repeat: March 23 Ghosttown Farm Stand is canceled. Sorry! We’ll try again in April….


Urban Farm Tour and more…

It’s the year of the tour. A fellow urban farmer, k ruby from the institute of urban homesteading is doing an urban homestead tour in June; the Bay Friendly garden tour is featuring lots of places with chickens, bees, ducks, and goats on their tour; and the Biofuel Oasis is having our first Urban Farm Tour on Sunday, April 3rd, 9:30-2pm. It’s going to be really fun–the tour group will meet at the Biofuel Oasis then board the biodiesel powered Mexican School Bus for a few hours of urban farming pleasure. We will stop and see a small CSA, a youth run organization, a goat farm, and end at my place to behold my new predator proof chicken coop from heaven. Along the way you’ll get to sample farm produce, ask the farmer questions, and learn about best practices for growing food in the cities. Tickets are limited, $40/each. Sign up here, and I’ll see you on the bus!

Als0–thanks to everyone who came to my Farmstand this Sunday, it was great to meet all you cool people, and we did raise some cash to pay for some of the farm expenses. The next Ghosttown Farm pop up farmstand will be Wednesday, March 23, 4-7pm. Please let me know if you are an urban farmer with produce to sell. I’m looking for urban east bay people who want to sell honey, eggs, fruit, or vegetables. No jams or processed items at this time. Send me an email with your specifics: novellacarpenter at gmail

Happy March!