You can reach me at novella.carpenter(a)gmail(dot)com.

Send postcards, spices, or other items to 610 16th Street, #302 Oakland, CA.

161 responses to “Contact

  1. Novella, I loved your article in the Chronical Inner City Economics.

    Do you have any books to recommend to help me develop as a feature writer?

    Thank you.


  2. ghosttownfarm

    howdy libby;
    thanks for the compliment!
    do you mean how to? or do you mean books with good feature writing?
    i don’t know of any how-to ones. the best thing to do is read great features (newspapers like the Oregonian have some nice ones, the Washington Post) and dissect them to figure out why they worked so well.

  3. Interesting!

  4. Novella: Loved your story about housecleaning in SF Gate, dated Monday 08 Dec 08. I was a male housecleaner, also college educated, in Tucson from 1978-90. I loved my work and my clients loved me! I’m 75 now, and as I reflect I realize it was a great occupation — highly recommended. This housework training enabled me to become a top-notch househusband for 13 years. Keep up the good work!

  5. I understand you have a book due out 6/11/09,
    Farm City, The Education of a Urban Farmer.

    I’m looking forward to not only reading it, but selling it in our Independent Bookstore.

    Good luck with the book!

  6. ghosttownfarm

    hi george:
    yay independent bookstore! it’s in the penguin press summer catalog.

  7. Hi Novella,
    I came across your book on and was curious to read more about it. It sounds intriguing! I am a librarian in Oregon who is into the CSA/backyard homestead sort of book. Can I recommend that you talk a bit more about it here on your website? I think you might be too bashful about it. I wanted to read more about the book; if you aren’t excited enough about it to write about it here, then should I be interested enough to buy it, you know? Your potential readers want to hear more! 🙂

  8. ghosttownfarm

    hi ann;
    i know, self-promotion is my weak point. i made a sister website to promote the book, but i will start beating the drum in earnest soon!

  9. nice! and a glowing Publishers Weekly review, very cool! That means a fair amount of libraries will be buying it too, i imagine.

  10. Chris Fowle

    Please put me on your mailing list so I know when you’ll be in NYC, thanks.

  11. Hi-

    We just bought 3 goats yesterday. 2 1 month does and their mother.

    They are apparently related to 2 of your goats.

    We have milk for the does (the mother can’t milk enough for the 2, but we need to get goat feed and other supplies for the mother etc. (a friend already got us a salt lick from you.

    We’re wondering if you can point us in the right direction in the Oakland area.


  12. hi davor;
    cool! the biofuel oasis in berkeley (corner of ashby and sacramento) sells dairy pellets and kelp–both of which your goats will like.
    did you buy from leah at odom family farm?

  13. Didn’t see DC on your book tour, so hope that’s on your list. Loved the review in the NY Times on Friday!

  14. Novella,

    Loved your book. Bought and finished it this weekend. Encouraged me to work harder on our small plot in the backyard.

    It sounded like you put two and two together regarding your 1000 feet diet and your bad breath, but what you were experiencing was ketosis, or the production of ketones that occurs when the body function with a limited supply of carbs. I don’t think anyone knows if low carb/high carb/etc. diets are better than anything else, but if your SO is interested and you guys haven’t already come to the same conclusion, the mystery breath was from the low carbs.

    Thanks again for the good reading!

  15. bruce, that is totally fascinating. long live bread!

  16. Novella:

    I just stumbled acorss your website! Ever since we got a home in Oakland with space, I’ve been wanting get back to my farming roots. I put in a vegetable garden this year and fruit trees, but moles and deer have devestated both:( 😦 How do you do pest control? I want to get chickens, meat rabbits, and potentially goats in the future if i can ever afford to fence my property. Does the presence of the animals help deter the pests??? I’ll be picking up a copy of your book very soon, and will bookmark your site for more inspiration and help. Thank you!!!

  17. mrpoopypants

    Enjoyed the article in the Gate/Chron.
    Good writing and i can relate to scratching dirt for pennies.
    Hang in there.

  18. I’m just learned about urban farms. How can I sign up for updates to this blog?

    I think this will become a “movement” … if it hasn’t already, that is.

  19. Novella,

    i can request my local library order books once every 3 months…
    id like to see you copy there..

    do you have an ISBN number?

    also, do you have a twitter? id like to blast your link out to my 8000 followers

    Dont stop what your doing!

  20. hi novella,
    read the aricle on sfgate and i am so in awe of what you do! i spent my teenage years on a small farm in massachusetts with horses, goats and chickens (the bantams were my babies). my mom and her partner, susan, still have a farm in western mass. and susan is trying to be a subsistence farmer; she has chickens and a huge garden and greenhouse. hoping to see you at the reading on july 1.
    best wishes,

  21. do you sell them? a dozen and a couple of pounds…

  22. Hi Novella
    Loved the article in the Chron today. Good for you for doing what you love. Your haircut is definitely cute. Don’t waste money on a professional one. My husband cuts mine and it looks fine. All you need is a glass of Chardonnay and some sharp scissors…
    We are some of the lucky ones, with an acre to play on. We also have bees and chickens and will soon be getting goats (and possibly an emu). Had geese, ducks, and turkeys, but we also have foxes, raccoons, and skunks, not to mention neighbor’s dogs, so not all of our poultry lasts long. We do have a dog, but she is old and deaf and stinky, so she’s basically just an eating and pooping machine. Not much help as a guardian (hence the emu).
    We are trying our best to be good stewards of the land, composting all our garden waste, feeding all our food waste to our worm bins, and feeding our chickens with scraps and leftover parrot food instead of buying scratch and lay crumbles. We grow most of our veggies and do eat the eggs our girls produce, but we have not been able to bring ourselves to harvesting the older hens for food once they stop laying. We are not vegetarians, but all the girls have faces and names and it’s just too hard. It would be like killing and eating my cats. We get very attached to our pets. We even have trouble clubbing a trout when we’re backpacking.
    Our little farm is named, you guessed it, Varmitville. We have 14 hens plus Earl the Rooster, and we also feed over 20 feral cats (all spayed and neutered) and 3 housecats, plus 5 parrots and about 50 smaller birds in an outdoor aviary. Yes, we are insane. Our animal food expenses far outweigh our own food expenses, but it is worth every penny (mostly cat, dog and parrot food–the chickens are cheap because we recycle so much to them).
    Note to Jolene–no, pests are not deterred by animals. We have a skunk who constantly digs up into the chicken coop (aka The Poultry Palace) and gophers dig into the aviary to get the spilled seed. We should have wired the bottom of both, but did not and are paying the price in lost finches and chicken eggs. We are thinking about getting the emu to keep the neighbor’s dogs out of the yard (which is fenced, which they jump) so she can kick the snot out of them.
    Thanks Novella. I am glad to know there are others out there who have a love for the land and a joy in animals. Keep up the good work and the fantastic writing. I will stay tuned…
    And if you want to sell any baby goats…..

  23. Hi,

    I live in Oakland also. I think goats are really nifty — shockingly catlike for grass-eaters. I’ve had fantasies of having 2 or 3 goats of my own, to keep the weeds down. I live in the hills, up Shepherd Canyon. The fire department is really strict about Vegetation Management! They use goats in the park areas to eat the weeds, and I thought of having my own mini-version to farm out to neighbors who might prefer quiet munching to obnoxiously noisy weed-eaters.

    One of the many reasons I haven’t done anything about it is that I figure the noises goats make might piss off my neighbor.

    Have you considered anything in the “rent-a-goat” weed-abatement area?

    A friend who knows how much I like goats sent me the newspaper article this morning. I’m sympathizing with your need to get Hedwig de-horned — but then I read (in your blog) the hermaphroditic part; you’re not sure what to do with THAT end of the goat either.

    Do you want Hedwig, de-horned? Or do you want to find a new home for Hedwig???


  24. Hi Novella, I read your column in today and really liked it. I live in Oakland and I’ve started growing veggies, but maybe one day, I’ll have some animals…and a real farm.

    Do you ever open up your farm for visitors? I’d love to take a look at the animals.



  25. Hi Novella. I just read your article in SFGate today, and I think it’s so great that you are doing this. It’s really inspirational, and I really like your resourcefulness. Lots of great ideas that I will try to employ as well. I also want to say that it’s amazing that you do what you do in your neighborhood. I see why you call it Ghost Town Farm. I drive by there sometimes when I go to work, and man, some of those boarded up buildings on that stretch of MLK is pretty sad, to say the least. I always see young guys just loitering in the streets. Anyways, you don’t even mention it in your article, and I don’t even know why I’m pointing it out, other than the fact that now I know there’s more to meet the eye than what’s on the surface of some ‘blighted neighborhood”.
    I will go out today and get your book! And thanks for the great article. I’ve been browsing your blog too. Lots of great stuff in there.

  26. you are all so f-ing awesome!
    thanks for the support, it means so much to me.
    wei, i’ll do a farm tour soon–thinking mid-july or august. maybe make it into a party.
    evelyn, i’m not sure what to make of hedwig. the vet says she’s an it but we won’t really know until she goes into heat (or doesn’t).
    varmitville, thanks for sharing.
    cam, i don’t really sell much–esp because the chickens have knocked off work lately (two are broody).

  27. You should set up a paypal account to accept donations for the vet bills. I hate hearing about people that have animals and can’t afford to give them vet treatments. If you set one up, let me know and I’ll send a donation…

    Thanx for the writing! (a former farm boy from Oklahoma!)

  28. Varmitville

    You don’t have to worry about noise from goats. They are quiet and sweet and funny. The worst that could happen is smell, but that’s only if you don’t take care of it (I grew up on a farm with lots of livestock, so I have a clue).
    Just keep the poop cleaned up and don’t have too many for your space. We had a neighbor here (near Salinas) who had 9 (!!!) sheep in a pen that was less than 300 square feet. Gawd. The smell was awful. We couldn’t even sit in our front yard. Not to mention the poor animals. They must have been miserable. His house got foreclosed so they are all gone but still….think before you commit to another life.

  29. Hey Novella,
    I loved your story today too. I also have goats and chickens in Oakland. We used to live near downtown at 3oth and Broadway, right next to Glen Echo creek. Zeigfried and Roy used to love munching on the blackberries, apples, ivy and all the other plants that loved the rich soil over there. Nobody believed we had goats in downtown Oakland. I think you mentioned that you feed them alfalfa, right? Please be sure you don’t give them too much or better yet switch to oat hay. Poor Zeigfried developed calcium deposits in his urethra from eating alfalfa- it’s really rich. His x-rays looked like a string of pearls! And after months of heartache and many trips to Davis, we finally had to put him down. Roy is doing fine and never developed them but the vets up there say it can be fairly common. We’re now in the hills on a half acre of land with 2 more pals for Roy and a bunch of chickens. I’d love to tour your farm one of these days, it’s sounds great! Take care!

  30. read your post on SFgate today and discovered via your blog that you had a reading this evening. So serendipitous!!! Tonight was such an incredible evening. Bravo to you! This coming from a vegetarian! I was repulsed, delighted, and laughing my ass off at the same time… thank you for such a memorable evening.

  31. Caught your talk w/ M Pollan last night and really enjoyed it. Thought you might appreciate this Atlantic article by the Nimans:

  32. I loved your story in the Chronicle! It reminded me of growing up on a ranch in San Diego – we had horses, goats, sheep & chickens. I love goats!!!!

    I’m sending you a gift card to buy some new bras – Lord knows you don’t need to be worrying about holding up the girls when you’ve got all those lovely animals to care for! 🙂

  33. Hi Novella,

    Virginia Wood, the food editor at the Austin Chronicle, loaned me your new book. I LOVED it. As they say, “I couldn’t put it down!”

    Great personality, great writing, and funny (the most important part!)

    So much of what you wrote echoes our urban farm experiences (17 years worth and counting) at Boggy Creek Farm, which is on the “wrong side” of I-35 in East Austin. But as in most cities, the best soil, bottom land, is found in the “poor” neighborhoods.

    We are currently living in our farm house surrounded by towering crates of heirloom tomatoes. Hoping to get them sold before they start leaking and start stinking….

    Best wishes and thanks for the terrific read!

    Carol Ann Sayle

  34. Could you please give me the web site so we can order bees next January. Thank you. Sharron.

  35. novella,
    enthusiastically reading your book over the weekend..i was inspired. i sat on my back patio getting sunburnt and laughing, wishing i had some chickens and bees. thanks for including some of your library. i live in oakland as well and would be interested in helping out and learning more…you’re doing a great job, melissa

  36. Just wanted to say your book was a great read and inspirational. Not sure if we’ll raise pigs, but we are hoping to raise chickens. We’re up here in Bremerton, just a hop skip from Shelton. Keep up the good work and turn more people into urban farmers. It’s a worthy goal!

  37. Welllllll, damn. Extending my sincere & humble (& embarrASSed) apologies for hopping right on in & posting the blathering stuff I did, here & there, before being able to get the time to read more on your blog – & learn more abt you & what you’ve been doing!

    Just spent my entire post-a.m.-chore-afternoon/evening time wading thru the whollllllle thing & – wow. Very much enjoyed it! &, have to say that I was particularly appreciative of the ‘evolution’ I noticed after going back to the very beginning & reading your experiences in chronological order. B/c I’d first, just read a few of your more recent posts – & impulsively responded, like a dumbass, LOL – w/o really having a good grasp on “All That’s Novella”. Or at least what’s been revealed of you/your endeavors on that blog, I should say. *wink*

    Very impressive & inspiring!!!!

    You’re doing more than most of the farm-raised &/or rural-dwelling folks that we know who totally HAVE that upbringing/knowledge just already “automatically instilled” – AND the abilities/land/etc. but – who don’t @#%@%#%&& use it! Yeah. Who, instead, buy most, if not ALL of their stuff from the blankin’ store. What a shameful, awful waste, huh?! Worse: those same folks make fun of ME for all of the “silly” stuff I do, in an effort to raise as much of our own, healthy food as I can. (we’re “lucky” to live in a very rural area on a small & very ancient (late 1800’s – serious “fixer upper” kinda thing) farm -10 acres. Mostly wooded/swamp, though before you or anyone else gets envious, LOL.)

    I can’t wait to get my hands on your book! &, conGRATTTTTTTTTSSSSssssssss on that – AND on becoming a star, too, BTW. Awesome! (I’d be totally pooping if I were you, just for the record – probably curled up in the fetal position in a corner, drooling, sucking my thumb, rocking & chanting nursery rhymes over & over & over – yikesholyshit.)

    If you haven’t yet read the Foxfire series, you gotta. Pretty sure you’d love it. I’m in the process of re-reading what I’ve managed to re-collect of it, thus far (original, family collection was lost in a flood) & . . . the invaluable information contained therein will just never get “old”, IMO.

    Hoping my enthusiasm here isn’t taken negatively. Just can’t help but to be feeling pretty excited abt your endeavors & accomplishments – & the wonderful successes! – you’re having there IN THE CITY. Believe it or not, it’s tougher living in BFE/traditionally-&-conventionally-narrow-minded land, where we do. . . even though it IS “in the country”. People in these-here parts just aren’t open to “new ideas”, so it’s very frustrating & disheartening.

    Alllll the best,
    Sarah/Lost Nation Farm/Michigan

  38. ghosttownfarm

    hey sarah;
    i’m laffing my ass off! your comments are so hilarious–love it.
    yes indeed, i have learned a lot over the years! it’s a great feeling to develop as a farmer.
    i’m hoping to hit michigan on a diy tour, i’ll be sure to let you know where/when.

  39. Tidewater Area

    Hello. I was reading your blog and wanted to ask about the roasting of the grape tomatoes. Can you tell me what you do? I understand you roast the grape tomatoes in the oven. Time? Temp? Also, then how you can them after roasting? Can grape tomatoes be canned after cutting up and cooking like regular tomatoes? Thank you very much

  40. ghosttownfarm

    hi guys (hanging head in shame for how long it’s taken me to respond)!
    some responses:
    dennis (sigfreid and roy owner): that’s awesome you had goats way back when! my goats are milkers so they need alfalfa to produce good milk. i’ve heard about males developing the calcium chunks–terrible. sorry to hear about your loss.
    tidewater: i roast the tomatoes at 250 degrees for 8 hours. just turn on the oven overnight. the slow cooking keeps them sweet. then you pop them into sterilized jars, water bath process them for 20 minutes under two inches of water, pull them out and let them set until you hear them pop. summer in a jar!

  41. Novella,
    Saw you at the libary in LA and my group throughly enjoyed you, I also can’t wait to read your book. What kind of boots do you have? Very cool.
    Keep farming

  42. ghosttownfarm

    hi cardie!
    thanks, they are my favorite shit kickers: ariat is the brand, available at fine western stores. they are incredibly comfortable and are great for bike riding, not just horses.

  43. *also hanging head in shame for not being able to keep up w/ online life* (not that *I* matter, far’s this blog’s concerned, but . . . y’know. heh)

    COOL that you’re planning a DIY tour to MI!! Yes, yes – definitely let me know when you’ll be in the area! Also, if you’ll be in OH or IN b/c we live in the “Tri-State area” where all 3 states meet.

    &&&&&, if you’d like a farmy (not to mention: free) place to crash? Let me know that, too – can put you up, chica!

    I can only imagine what kinds of terribly-socially-unacceptable – I mean terribly-self-sufficient-that-“everyone”-will-oooh-&-ahh (not to be confused with: grimace-&-puke-&-bitch)-abt – things we might decide to hop into. Sure we could find something running around out there, that “needed” butchering – could document the whole thing, take pics, invent some super-fab gourmet recipes for you to post to your blog to add to your fame/prowess, etc., etc., etc.. (& just think: wouldn’t even have to do any “bathtub dispatching”, LOL!)

    You could see what it’s like to milk some non-hand-killing-sized teats (caprine or bovine), we could make butter (out of the cow cream – way too impatient/lazy to do goat butter, thankyouverymuch), cheese – goat or cow or both – mix in some home-grown veggies &/or fruits &/or herbs – or wildcrafted ones since there’s an array of those out there to be gotten, too! – for you to take & serve at your book-tour stops. . . along w/ some bread we could go buy/barter for, from one of our Amish friends/neighbors (since I hate baking, for some unknown reason) (oh yeah: maybe b/c it involves *gasp* measuring & steps & instructions & dirtying too many dishes & etc.)!

    & when we needed a break (or whatever other excuse we might conjure up to justify it – if necessary, anyway), we could kick back & sip on a frosty mug o’ freshly-drawn draft from our kegerator (sorry, storebought swill’ll have to suffice till I get the time/energy/etc. to hop into home-brewing), or two or three or twelve. & puff on a couple of homemade cigarettes (made from mail-ordered, custom-blended/all natural/no additives/preservatives/etc. tobacco, blended w/ some garden-raised &/or wildcrafted herbs . . . unless/until the tobacco I’m trying my hand at growing this year, alllll by my own, itty, bitty, sick-of-living-in-the-Sin-Tax-State-&-paying-$$$-for-the-outrageously-expensive-icky-chemical-laden-shit this year stuff’s smokeable by then) (today’s hyphen day, BTW).

    & if we accidentally imbibed on a coupla too many drafts & were feeling extra-silly & adventurous? We could clamber into my redneckmobile (read: big ol’, lifted/brush-barred/all-terrain-tire-sporting/etc. rattle trap 4×4 pickemup) & go 4-wheeling out in the back 40.

    & if we got stuck, my darling & ever-patient-&-accommodating spouse would come yank us out w/ the tractor.

    & if he made fun of us for being Dumb Girls & getting stuck? We’d just laughhhh & flip him off. Well, AFter he got us unstuck, that is. Long walk from out there back up here to the house. Esp. b/c it’s mostly uphill. *puff pant puff*

    Sooooo . . . y’see? How badass would it be for you to be able to have all of that “cross-cultural experience” stuff, from here in BFE-hillbilly-hick-land, to take home & brag abt to your urban-dwelling, Big City friends. They’d mostly CERtainly just be poo-OOP-ing themselves w/ envy. *wink*

    & oh yeah – I’d also be stuffing your luggage full of LaManchas when you weren’t looking. 😀

    Okayyy, back to the broccoli “putting up” project I’m in the midst of. . . should be doing cabbage but my vintage, $3 garage-sale-gotten food processor took a serious shit after just a 1/4 of a cabbage that was intended for freezer slaw & sauer kraut, eeeeek!

    All the best,

    P.S. if Hedwig’s indeed a hermaphrodite (can’t see the angry millimeter well in the pic, not that vulva-shaped weirdness is *always* 100% indication of a non-breeder), I’d say she’s cabrito material. If she were my doe, though, I’d wait & try breeding her – then preg-test her (cheap via DIY blood draw sent to, before f’real making her into freezer fodder.

  44. I love, love, LOVE your book! Thanks to your story, I’ve just bought some stuff to start an herb garden (baby steps! 🙂 and now have visions of fruit trees and muscadine grape vines dancing in my head! (Although I’m a city girl trapped in what I lovingly term suburban h3ll, my husband and I now have the largest yard we’ve ever had in either of our respective lives. While reading your book on our back patio, I kept looking at our vast expanse of coiffed and coiffured lawn and thinking, “Man, what a WASTE! Let’s plant something edible, not mowable!”) Thanks so much for sharing your wit, humor, sarcasm, trials, errors and successes, and for being such an inspiration!

  45. Hi Novella,

    I would be interested in receiving a copy of your book for possible review in Eco Family News. Please let me know the best way to make a formal request. Please respond via email to the above address. Thank you.


  46. Tidewater Area

    ghosttownfarm: thanks for the instructions. When I put them in the sterilized jars is any liquid going into the jar? I did make my first batch but they never lasted long enough to can anything…LOL!

  47. Hey Novella,

    Just wanted to tell you that I have been reading your book this weekend while my husband is out of town, and your gumption and grit have inspired me to do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. These are not big things, mind you — (hauling things into the attic by myself! nailing things on the walls! pruning back our prickly bushes!) — but every time I do them, I think “hell, if Novella can bludgeon a possum by herself, I can surely manage hoisting this 50 lb. box up a rickety old flight of attic-steps with one hand.”) One day, I will take on greater challenges but thank you in the meantime for helping me take small steps. Your writing is so endearing and I look forward to reading more from you.

    Best, Leslie

  48. ghosttownfarm

    that is hilarious! glad i’m inspiring you: but don’t fall down the stairs, ok?
    tidewater: there is some liquid, and you def want that in the jar: it’s like the nectar/essence of the tomato.
    thanks sarah for the advice–i don’t think hedwig is a hermie (her vag looks fine) anymore. but i do have to get rid of her because she’s a jumper and my fences are tall enough for nigerian dwarf goats!

  49. Tidewater Area

    ghosttownfarm: you state “there is some liquid, and you def want that in the jar: it’s like the nectar/essence of the tomato”. Where is this liquid coming from? As you are canning them it seeps out or are you adding liquid? Sorry .. all of this is new to me and I DEFINITELY want to can these! LOL 🙂

  50. Hi Novella,

    I heard your interview on CBC radio today. Though I applaud much of what you are doing to reconnect people with food and so much more, I do wish to comment on a particular justification you employ in defense of the killing and eating of animals.
    You stated that eating meat is part of our culture and therefore morally acceptable. Perhaps you don’t realize that under this same argument, that cultures exist both now and in the past where racism, slavery and rape to name just three behaviors are and/or were the cultural norm.

    To quote from Peter Singer’s book Practical Ethics, “It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.”

    My point is that our particular cultural norms are not necessarily a guideline for setting our moral compass. I suggest that to kill animals to enjoy their flesh is not morally defensible by the reason that 95% or more of other people participate in this practice in our culture.

  51. Great picture in TIME magazine in the Food article, good press for your book and animal husbandry movement. I like the green stairs.

  52. Jodi Zeigler

    Hey Novella!

    I met you for a minute at the LA Library (my introduction/confession as a flaky gardener).
    Your talk was awesome (and hysterical) and we love what you are doing…you really are an inspiration.
    My husband and I are coming up for the Eat Real Fest and as I was looking at your website to email you and inquire about a farm tour, then I noticed you have already set the whole day up…stoked!
    Looking forward to experiencing the farm firsthand, and to say hello-


  53. I just finished your book today and I had to drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoyed it. Keep up the inspiration! 🙂

  54. ghosttownfarm: you state “there is some liquid, and you def want that in the jar: it’s like the nectar/essence of the tomato”. Where is this liquid coming from? As you are canning them it seeps out or are you adding liquid? Sorry .. all of this is new to me and I DEFINITELY want to can these! LOL

  55. ghosttownfarm

    hey there! the liquid is just the juice from the tomatoes. if you don’t raw pack, and cook the tomatoes first, that nectar generally evaporates in the cooking process. my mom freezes her tomatoes whole but i like the taste of the canned tomatoes over fresh. they become transformed!

  56. Your book was the best read I’ve had in a long time. It was funny, poignant, brilliant, instructive and inspiring. I actually cried reading the last chapter. You are a very special person and I hope one day to meet you.

    I’ve recommended the book to so many people, including my brother who is embarking on a business developing and renovating row houses in Baltimore. Every one of those houses has a garden/yard space in the back. He ordered the book on Amazon while I was telling him about it. There are so many friends who are going to love this book!

    Thank you for the breath of fresh air you brought to me life

  57. Heidi Neipris Wexler

    It’s all about timing. It was my birthday, August 5. Best thing I ever bought and devoured. Telling everyone I know. My kids are rolling their eyes. just like you did with your mom.
    Imagine my delight when I realized that there is a open house this Saturday at Ghost Town Farm! ust finished the I feel I deserve to meet you!
    I’m in Rockridge…and I’ve already driven by to see if your place exists
    …saw the monks and the place and my heart leapt! I will be there will bells on and homemade bread to share..will do anything to help you during the day. You make my heart sing.


  58. I thoroughly enjoyed your book and admire your moxie. Thank you for sharing your story and helping to bring awareness about our connection
    with food.

  59. T from Philly

    I just finished reading Farm City after seeing a nice review of it in a ‘summer reading for foodies’ article – not sure where.

    It reads like a novel, I couldn’t put it down yet at the same time was sad when it ended- I was so entranced by all the characters. You are a wonderful writer!

    Was surprised and happy to see that Ghost Town Farms is still thriving – had thought the illusion to the condos at the end was how “the story ended” – and now to see that you have expanded to “Goats” and that Grandma is still cooking fish makes me very happy. Was also happy to see blogs/websites from some of the other people in the book.

    I live in Philly, be sure to email me if you plan to come here for a talk or book signing. And thank you again for sharing your experiences. Keep up the farming AND the writing!

  60. ghosttownfarm

    thamks t! yes, i’ve been so lucky the housing bust happened! victorious like bobby….

  61. Hi,
    I absolutely LOVED your book. it gave me hope on becoming a semi self-sufficient urban farmer. I am only gardening now, but I want to be a bee keeper as well. I need to ask you if I could directly side dress fresh rabbit poop onto plants, or do I have to age them? Also, can you give me more information on where to purchase heirloom variety vegetable seeds? and where would I purchase my bee starter kit? I live in Chicago, would all the bees die in the winter? Please let me know if you are coming to Chicago, I’d love to meet you! You are my inspiration!

  62. hello,
    i read your column on article and enjoy it very much. i aspire to be more like you.

    i volunteered to take the chickens when my sons class incubated some eggs and we have 3 roosters as a result. they are still young and haven’t started crowing yet. they are about 4 months old. we are attached and not able to ….

    do you have any ideas of anyone who would want
    them in the oakland area?

  63. Hi Novella,

    my husband and I live in Pt. Richmond we have had chickens for the last 5 years and I do butcher them. Look up to your left when passing Chevron on the way to Marin you can see our barn and extensive gardens. We pretty much hover over 580,you got Bart we got 580 lol Mostly fruit trees,veggies and herbs.

    After finishing your book on Thursday I got inspired, went out and got 3 rabbits,two does and a buck .I do plan to eat the offspring. Goats are next.I was hoping you could tell me where I could get two small goats.

    Thank you very much for the inspiration I hope to meet you and share ideas,fowl and some fun.

    Happy Sunday! Cassie

  64. Joanne Taylor

    Hi Novella, I have about 10 pages left to read in your book. I really have enjoyed it. When are you coming to Seattle, your old stomping grounds? I would love to come to a book reading or lecture or something of yours. I am a fellow backyard farmer.

  65. I read your book on the recommendation of one of our great librarians…and LOVED IT! I felt inspired and not totally off my rocker for wanting to do all the same things in my suburban homestead…I wish you would come to visit a store near here, RJ Julia, an high strung little bookstore in nearby Madison CT. We’re not far from New Haven and the Yale Sustainable Food Project would probably love to have you come and do a talk and book signing. And you could make the rounds to CitySeed, a group that works to empower inner city residents to grow healthier food- contact Tagan Engel, she’s an amazing person and is really passionate about CitySeed. Hope to see you nearby in the future!

  66. Novella,
    You are my hero! My husband and I began our micro-farm this spring in downtown Atlanta…veggies, chickens and newly planted blueberry and blackberry bushes. We hope to grow as we gain experience, but our space is very limited. Thanks for being such an incredible example.

    Kelly Enzor

    P.S. I love your book!

  67. ghosttownfarm

    hey kelly!
    thanks, that is so cool! i hope to make it to atlanta for the paperback tour….

  68. Hi Novella!
    Just finished reading your book! Awesome. Can’t wait for my wife to read it…since she actually bought it for herself when you were here in Spokane!

    Spring will start year two for us as serious urban farmers, and we’re adding bees in a homemade top-bar hive, and rabbits from a gent Jess met at your dinner at Sante’.

    You and Riana have been a great inspiration.

  69. Christy Whitmore

    Hi Novella –

    Thanks so much for sharing your story – I loved every page of it. My husband and I have turned our backyard up in the Oakland hills into a fruit and vegetable garden over the last few years and it’s become a huge part of our life. I keep threatening to get a few chickens… maybe next year. Although up here on the hill it’s all about “the view”. I can just see my neighbors laying eggs themselves when I install a coop. 🙂 As it is, a big part of my vegetable growing plan is to make it look as much like an english garden as possible. I worked some with Mel Bartholomew (Mr. Square Foot Gardening) so I do my best at companion planting only what we’ll eat and rotating the boxes etc., to keep it as pretty as I can. My sister in law has a small farm in Maine and I’ve learned quite a bit from her as well, but your uban story is a new level of inspiration! Your courage (or should I say willingness to jump in before you know what you should be afraid of) is a lesson to us all.


  70. Where to start? Your book will be an instant classic up here in Eugene. Thanks a ton. I’m going to eat some lovely pork now. I think it is from the same Farmer that Chris gets his from. Cheers

  71. Hi, Novella

    I just wanted to say that I found your site because someone sent me a link to the youtube video about your farm(The Chow one). I’m definitely going to keep a close eye on your blogs and efforts, as I have been wanting to do something like this for a long time, but didn’t really know how. Thanks for sharing your stories with all of us in Internetland!

  72. Hi,
    I came across your book at the library a couple of days ago and I just finished. I absolutely loved it! I’ve fantasized about being an urbam farmer for years now, but stick to the fruits and vegetables for now. I’m so excited for spring when the backyard garden really gets going. Thanks so much for writing your story. Take care.

  73. Hey Novella,
    I got a gift certificate for Copperfield’s in Sebastopol, and they had your book displayed near the register. I bought it and each night before passing out I managed to read a few pages. It was like having a little journey each night to Oakland and into your world. It took me over a month to read and I didn’t want it to end! I’ve gone back to college (at age 53) to learn sustainable agriculture and work on the farm at the junior college part-time as well. And raising 4 year old twins. Your book was an inspiration to keep me going in this direction. Thanks for such a fun read.

  74. Hi Novella! I came to your farm during the Eat Real Festival and I thought it was awesome! My sister is visiting this week and I would love to show her your farm, chickens and goats. Is it possible to arrange a visit?

  75. Hi Novella. Really Really enjoyed your “Farm City” book. Can’t wait to read your next book.

    Up here in Barrie, ONtario we have lots of large farms just outside city limits, but to my dismay I am not allowed to raise any fowl in my suburbia….drats. I was so hoping to have our own fresh eggs.
    Keep up the great writing . We have much enjoyed your exploits 🙂

  76. ghosttownfarm

    hi carla: thanks! have you guys considered going to city council meetings and raising hell about the ordinance against chickens? i heard it was effective in missoula.

  77. Durango, CO just changed their ordinance – you might look up the process they took as well..

  78. Hi Novella,

    Just a note to say that I’m inspired by your book. I finished it not long after attending your Portland, Maine signing in November, and gave it to my housemate, who loved it. Raising chickens is in my near future… perhaps bees, too, and a sturdy goat to keep the grass mowed. I’ll check into turkeys, too…. the local permaculture group did get a chicken one passed last year.

    I’m encouraged by your writing and hope you’ll publish more in the future. I hope you had a great time on your signing tour, although I imagine it must’ve been a tad exhausting!

  79. Congratulations on your great work.
    What thoughts do you have on animal husbandry as a focus of vocational training programs for inner city youth?
    Do any such programs exist, what do you see as the biggest obstacles? I know about Urban Homesteading but there doesn’t see to be much for youth.
    Thank you. Sue

  80. Novella,
    Great to share cheese, food, general politico stuff with you over dinner at Cafe Rouge. They can a mean goat cheese souffle–one that you should be making with all of that excess goats’ milk. You have quite the rep for all of your cheeses. The trick to the geo rind is to make sure you keep the cheese at a warm temperature to get the mold growing. If it is too cool other bad guys will grow like poile du chat. It’s the black one and it won’t harm you but it makes the cheese taste bitter. Keep the photos coming. And safe travels to Africa.! Just started Urban Farm. Awesome read.

    Allison Hooper

  81. Oops. Farm City. We have been called Vermont Egg Company. No eggs at this creamery. Hey at least we are called something 🙂

  82. Hi Novella
    Just a quick note to say I am half way through Farm City and don’t want it to end. I moved to Oakland from London just over a year ago and actually live on East 28th street. The thought of this whole story unfurling just down the road is just joyous. I have toyed with the idea of trying to set up my own, small scale urban farm for a few years now and your book has given me the inspiration to believe I can, and to actually do it. So thank you thank you. Hope to make a trip down once I have read the book. Fran

  83. Dear Novella,
    Is your e-mail address still active? I tried to send you a message through Microsoft Outlook and I received a message that your address was not recognizable.

    So, I attached my letter here but left some things out that were meant for only your eyes (such as my home address.)

    Please contact me.

  84. Woops! Here’s a part of the letter:

    Dear Novella,

    My name is Laura Ennis. I am an elementary teacher in Los Angeles. My husband read your book “Farm City” and shared with me in detail about your experiences.

    We have read several books about agriculture, self-sufficiency, and rural and urban farming, and are trying to practice a self-sufficient life-style. My husband is from another country, and he has traveled to more than 35 countries. He got a lot of knowledge and experience related to agriculture and self-sufficiently while traveling and living in different places. He speaks more than ten languages, and English is his sixth language. After sharing with me his experiences, he inspired me for an agricultural and self-sufficient life-style.

    We live in an apartment, and have access to hardly any garden space. But in spite of that, I have mint, tomato plants and jalapeño. Our main motto is: “Cultivate the soil”, and also “Milk the cow, work the bull.”

    We are so happy about what you are doing. It seems that you are having a similar plan like us. After reading your book, we understand about you and your life better than if we were acquainted with you for five years! It would also take some time for you to understand about us and our life.

    In my summer vacation, we don’t waste time at all. We make our clothes, pillows and mattresses. We are doing bookbinding, shoe-repair, quilting, and other crafts and do-it-yourself practices. We make a variety of pickles, jams, breads (including Amish bread), and a variety of international foods including Indian and Middle Eastern. We make cottage cheese and yogurt regularly. Plus, we are vegetarian (not vegan.)

    If you hear about my husband’s variety of future plans and projects, you will get excited. I think this is enough communication for the first writing. I would like to hear from you. I hope we will have contact so that we can exchange ideas with each other. This world is a practical school to learn from each other, through personal experience. There are two expressions that go like this:
    “Ask the experienced one, don’t ask the physician.”
    “The Truth is the daughter of Discussion.”

    Hope to hear from you soon.

  85. Hi Novella,
    I just read “Milking Time” in Eating Well. Enjoyed the whole article, but I must say that last paragraph was as charming as it gets.
    Best wishes,

  86. Hi Novella,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. I’ve past along to my sister to read because I knew, as farmer, she would appreciate the perspective you were writing from.

    Not only did I enjoy your book but I also found it extremely inspiring. I live in Toronto and have decided to start my own little farm project and chronicle it’s success or failure (either way).

    I am also considering raising some rabbits to eat. My only fear is that I will be unable to kill them and will therefore be known as the crazy rabbit woman…

    check out my sister’s and my blog, she’s a rural farmer, I’m a urban “farmer”, if you ever get a chance.

    thanks for the good read!


  87. thanks karen! i gotta go get a copy, i still haven’t seen it. glad you liked it!

  88. hi amelia;
    isn’t it nice having a sister? mine’s in rural france and she gets to go mushrooming and things like that.
    about the rabbit thing: it is hard sometimes. i would recommend finding someone who will do the deed for you. i always find myself overrun with them so i’m motivated to clear out space (and because they are so yummy)…
    good luck!

  89. Looking forward to your Tanning class! The check is in the mail!

  90. Novella!
    You are my idol! Finished reading your book and it is like a bible for me. I’d already been raising chickens, veggie gardening and canning for the last few years…..wish I could move to Cali for a little more freedom and a longer growing season! You’d think living in the great Midwest would give one more agricultural freedom. LOL Nope!
    My father and I used to raise bees. I got shot down and was given a perplexed look like I wanted to raise the dead in my backyard. Ummm, no……..just honey bees….good pollinators that are dying off, get a little yummy sweetness…. Nope.
    So, I checked city ordinances…….nothing written about raising rabbits though! Just got my breeder set mid February. Two does and a buck. Can’t wait to try some rabbit jerky. I try to talk to neighbors, friends and family about what I’m trying to accomplish on my less than 1/4 acre……Yup. According to all of them…..(I’ve gone a little loco!)
    Keep up the good work! I really wish one of my neighbors was raising a couple of pigs or goats in their backyard. BTW, are your goats dwarf Nubians? And are they noisy enough that someone would KNOW that you have them in your backyard? (Can’t blame a girl for trying here!) Thanks!

  91. Novella: Keep up the good work. I read thru the comments re; your rabbits/morality/blah, blah, blah.
    I heard this somewhere….”There is nothing more dangerous, or boring, then a zealot.” Folks love, LOVE to tell you what you’re doing wrong, but their false piety about how THEY treat animals is blinds them to THEIR impact on the planet-the cultivation of their free-range broccoli & soy beans killed & displaced countless creatures. Again, keep up the good work. And I loved your book!

  92. Novella: Just kicked the habit of being concerned with having to wear a tie. You’re Blog and the many comments have made me homesick. I basically grew up on a 7 ac. homestead farm, Dad worked, but we had ducks, geese, chickens, guinea hens and even marketed rabbits. Then there were the pigs and riding horses, surrounded by an 82 tree fruit orchard, rhubarb, asparagus, and berries of all kinds. I took over the bee hives at 15, and we all helped in the garden and canning. Spring led us to Dandelion and cow slips harvesting, and many family mushroom hunting forays. Mom canned about 50 pints of mushrooms per season, to pile on the spaghetti throughout that year. The cold cellar and canning shelves were stocked to the top shelf by October. It was then hunting season, our beef was venison, along with an abundance of small game we harvested through December. Fishing was also a year round pastime and food source, with yellow perch, crappie, pan fish, trout and even a mess or two of frog’s legs.
    I’ve been all over the world since then and miss it greatly as I’ve settled on retirement. I hope I pass on some of my wisdom; “only in America” is all this possible. Especially since many of us are so concerned with Organic foods, Conservation, and more than just sustenance, it’s survival with a grin. I seem to of taught my daughter well as she comingled various vegetables within her ornamentals in her Capitol Hill apartment garden, here in DC. For her April birthday dinner we celebrated with her fresh strawberry shortcake and a gorgeous Rose’. Early fall included venison along with her last fried green tomatoes.
    Your Blog is inspirational and helps map out my future, which includes a Rain Water Harvesting enterprise, of which I’ve become quite attuned to (rainworksdotwordpressdotcom), having traveling the globe, especially when living on a Caribbean Island over the last 4 years. 1-2 rainwater showers per day, supplemented with fresh fish, Cacao, Mangos, Bananas, Pineapple, Ginger, Lemon grass, Breadfruit, Taro, Passion fruit, Limes , and yes of course; Rum. (another Grin)

  93. Hi Novella! Remember me? It’s Norm from UW, the 4333 pad, all our great friends, etc! I was reading Sunset in the doctor’s office when I came across your picture and blurb. How exciting! I’m so proud and happy for your success and accomplishments!

    I live in Sequim, looking after my mom, getting my Masters in teaching (finally), hiking and biking with the dog, etc. I grow some herbs and vegetables, but not on your scale. I would love to have goats some day! I just love em!

    I’ve read some of your writing on this and your book’s website. I love your writing: A nice combination of formal and informal, precision, and descriptive and succinct adjectives. And you’re so kind and polite! I can’t wait to read your book. I’ll have to arrange to come down and visit you soon. How’s Bill?

    BTW, I’m a totally reformed vegan now. I love meat but eat it sparingly, because it’s so hard to find the good stuff. I’m 110% supportive of family-raised animals. It’s the only way to go!

    Write when you get a chance. I know you’re busy. Lovingly, Norm

  94. Hi Novella,
    I just finished reading your book. Enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to reading “Little House in the Big Woods” (a friend also told me about it) and was also looking forward to eating at Eccolo. I am soooo disappointed the restaurant is no longer. I hope Chris Lee will start up another restaurant. Please pass my best wishes on to Chris (I only know about him from your book. seems like a very good guy).
    Also wishing you well,
    Leilani Ardini
    A transplanted Hawaii local now living in SF

  95. Hi Novella,
    We’re kinda neighbors – I’m at 51st and West.
    (Check out my blog when you have a sec if you want to read more about what we’re up to – chickens, bees, food, etc.) but I just mostly wanted to say hi and I love what you’re doing. Your book was great and almost made me miss meat (especially proscuitto!), and we frequent the Oasis for fuel and chicken food. Anyway, I think we know some of the same Oakland Urban Homesteading folks, and I’ll be inviting you to an urban grange meeting this summer if you’re interested. In the meantime, good luck and take care,

  96. Just wanted to drop a note to say I’m reading Farm City and love it more than any book I’ve read in a long, long time. Your topic is dear to my heart and your ability as a writer is much appreciated. (I, too, refer to heirloom seed catalogs as “Vegetable Porn”.)

    Can’t wait to follow your work and see where else it takes you. Thanks for being an inspiration to food lovers and urban farmers everywhere!

  97. Novella,
    I loved seeing the picture of you and your sister with Rabbit. Two years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a 6-acre farm five miles outside of Chapel Hill, NC. I have been a lawyer for the past ten years but finally realized it was destroying my soul so I got a chicken tractor and 2 Buff Orpington roosters and 7 hens. I am currently raising 10 Buff Orpington ducklings and 15 Golden Lace Wynadottes chicks. Goats are next and you have inspired me to consider rabbits. I had a pig, Sonya, when I lived in Costa Rica, and was very fond of her as she followed me everywhere I went. Someone else ate her after I returned to the US.
    A vision is coming together for my farm. I have enough land that I can open it to the public and the old stone farmhouse built in 1795 can serve as the community center. I have just begun blogging about my transformation from lawyer to farmer and it is a heck of a lot more satisfying than arguing with some blowhard attorney in the courtroom over some legal issue that is of no importance to anyone or anything. Can you grow okra in CA? It grows great in the south and I just purchased an Indian cookbook that has a great recipe for spicy okra that is not deep-fried. I will continue to follow your adventures in farming, and if you have time to check out mine, here is the address:
    Thank you for writing your book. The world needs more women farmers.

  98. Love your work. We are trying to begin the same in East Palo Alto.

  99. Novella, I am reading your book and it is inspiring and amusing. I had 5 bee hives in the 1980’s while attending engineering school and learning italian so I could speak to the bees. Now I grow tomatoes and raspberries and I talked my neighbor into getting chickens so we could eat their eggs. Self sufficiency is very popular in Mormon Utah. Moreso now with the economy.

    We were staying at Lake Bled in Slovenia in October 2009 on a Roundabout tour and visited the bee museum nearby thanks to a tip from Rick Steves. I noticed you did the same. And we enjoyed the Slow Food movement-eating in northern Italy and Slovenia. They have lots of veal and truffles. Yummy!
    Bill in Hollady, Utah

  100. darlene frisicaro

    I loved your book, especially when you spoke about the pigs. Also curious about your boyfriend, your book was sort of a love story. Are you still with him?

  101. Just read your book ‘Farm City’. Reads like a dream except that you were brave enough to live it while some of us just dream about it. Have been trying to find some fresh, free range chicken in the bay area with no luck so far. Also wondered whether you could have done it on your own if your significant other had not been an equal partner?

  102. ghosttownfarm

    hey sapna;
    soul food chicken farm is a good one to try. they be at the pop up general store june 30. just google oakland pop up general store and pre-order one!
    i don’t think i could have done it without bill. especially the pigs. however, i’ve raised the milked the goats myself without bill’s help (he’s not milk motivated).

  103. Karen Larson

    Hi Novella,
    I just finished Farm City this morning & had to write you. What an adventure, told so well. I’m feeling inspired to work in my little garden a bit more. . . And I am craving home-made bacon. Go figure.
    This year I was coordinating a writing program at a high school in the Fruitvale District (Media Academy in the Fremont Federated HS) and I got to know that part of Oakland a bit. What an amazing diverse city, and I loved hearing about how you are helping to make Oakland even more of a city to love! Thank you.

  104. love the book !
    always have had a garden-but always ornamental.
    this year am up to herbs, tomatoes and peppers.
    still a far cry from pigs and poultry,
    but you inspire me.
    keep up the good work

  105. gardengirlfarm

    Again I am inspired! I taught three thirteen year old boys how to kill,clean and butcher a rabbit last night! They were very respectfull. Check it out on our blog!

    Thank you again Novella, you are with me in spirit everyday in the garden.

  106. I just viewed the video about your urban farm on, and I’m absolutely inspired by your insights! As a nutrition educator, I often come in contact with people who are so removed from real food and the processes between the farm and the styrofoam trays in the supermarkets. While not everyone is ready to take on the role of an urban farmer, at least we can learn about the hardships as well as the fruition that farming encompasses through your work.

    Thank you for sharing your work, Novella!

  107. Suellen Winegar

    I’d love to bring a small group from the Moraga Garden Club to visit your garden sometime toward the end of the month. We’re big fans. Would you be willing? Please feel free to contact me directly. Thanks!

  108. Gail Rossiter, President, Delta Kappa Gamma

    HI Novella,
    Not sure how to contact you. Would really like to have you come and do a book talk to our women’s educators group. We are all teachers who love digging in the dirt with kids in school gardens. You are an inspiration!

  109. I am Solomon Wang, and I live in Austin, Texas. I am a junior in Nutrition/Dietetics here at UT. I want my future to be dedicated to health, food, and the relationships in between. I recently read your article, An Urban Farmer’s Wild African Food Safari in the November issue of Food and Wine. It intrigued me because I spent this last summer with my nutrition program in Southeast Asia spending time with culture, diets, and families. It seems you have done a remarkable amount of traveling.

    Admittedly, I have never done much farming or sustainable living, but I am working and volunteering with the Sustainable Food Center here in Austin. This non-profit organization encourages a localized food system, an idea probably very close to your own heart. Specifically, I worked with lower-income middle schools and taught the students about growing their own gardens, cooking with available local produce, and all that good stuff that comes along with farmer’s markets and knowing your farmers. It is pretty funny that I am really just a city boy who now enjoys the aspects of sustainable living and eating, and it is even harder sometimes because I am the only one of my friends who tries to live a healthier lifestyle. I have been trying to get involved on the farms and what not here and Austin, and it is very rewarding stuff.

    I am actually heading to the Bay Area in January for a friend’s wedding. Sadly, when she told me to go to her wedding, my first thought was “I cannot wait to go food touring in the Bay Area…” That being said, I was wondering if you had any restaurant suggestions in the area or any suggestions relating to sustainability or farming that is a must see/do in the area? I am also just a novice traveler at the age of 21, so I haven earthly idea of know how to get around. Would you recommend taking a SmartCar everywhere? I am going to cover as much ground as I can in a week. I just cannot wait to explore that part of California, and I thought that you would be an amazing resource to at least point me in the right direction!

    If you did find time to read my email, I very much appreciate it. I am sure you are extremely busy. Thanks in advance.

    Best regards,
    Solomon Wang

    Also, here is the Sustainable Food Center’s Website:

    Specifically, I work with the Sprouting Healthy Kids Program, the Happy Kitchen program, and the Farmer’s Market program. Read up on it; you may find it interesting. 🙂

  110. ghosttownfarm

    hey solomon;
    sorry, i got your email but flaked out about responding.
    although i’m not a fan of cars, it will probably be raining so you should rent a smart/zip car to get around. you can get by on BART and a bike, though, if you want to stay local. restos with sustainable food i recommend are (in no particular order): Gather (berkeley), chez panisse (berkeley), tartine (two locations, in san francisco), pizzaolo (oakland), imperial tea court (berkeley–the handmade noodles in particular). if you have money to burn, french laundry in napa does an amazing dinner (not that i’ve been there!), greens (san francisco) and zuni (sf) are also supposed to be good but are too rich for my blood. have fun!!!

  111. HI! My name is Josie. I’m in seventh grade and I just finished Farm City. We had to read books for school and since I have become very interested in farming, I decided to read your book and I loved it so much! Thank you for writting Farm City!
    Sincerly, Josie

  112. josie: thank you honey!

  113. I enjoyed your book, Novella. Please see my blog post tomorrow (Saturday, 11/27) over at Left Coast Voices (

    I hope to make the long trip over from Berkeley and see your project for myself.
    Keep Weeding,

  114. Hello!
    I just want to say that I think what you are doing is so cool. When I grew up in San Jose raising Dairy goats I felt like I was the only person around who knew that milk didn’t just come in cartons. I love that agriculture is coming back bit by bit to the bay area! I saw that you teach the urban goat classes at Biofuel Oasis and wanted to let you know that I still raise standard size dairy goats just on the other side of the Altamont so if you ever have people looking for milkers or butcher kids or otherwise I would love to help them out to encourage others people raising dairy goats for family consumption!

  115. Hi! Wonderful to read Rebekah’s comments. We are always looking for fresh gost meat ( not frozen) and some elderly people would like fresh milk. How do I find you Rebekah. And generally, how does one find out about the City codes re livestock, chicken etc. ?

  116. Hi Sapna – I believe if you click on my name it will direct you to my herd website (emails under “contact us” page). If not – if you google “Cadence Dairy Goats” you should be directed to it 🙂
    We will be kidding all spring starting in February (yay! soon!) -email me and I would love to answer any questions I can.
    I raised goats in San Jose as part of a 4H project so I can’t tell you about City codes but perhaps your city’s website could direct you to codes?

  117. want to subscribe to your blog

  118. Hi

    I just finished reading your book.

    It got it at off the “new shelf” at our county library.

    I had one week to read it and I read it in 3 nights.

    It was excellent writing and I enjoyed it very much.

  119. Novella,darling..I’m almost done w/ Farm City. My family thanks you. I’ve ceased talk of not growing anything in our Grey Gardens this year and I’m now re-inspired to fight the urban elements.

    Last year I grew Cream of Saskatchewan melons in containers. I had three gorgeous-looking melons that looked to be within days of being ready. Our neighbor on one side is a bar. Some stupid drunks picked my melons and smashed them on the sidewalk. I would have felt so much better if someone had taken them to eat them,ya know?

  120. i read your book from here in new zealand. we had a farm, 2 pigs (PETS NOT FOOD) Tucker and Abigail, gorgeous gorgeous animals, scratching under their chin made them fall over in ecstasy, at one point they lived with 2 goats pedro and chico – goats are the worst, rude, obnoxious dirty! honestly when we got rid of them the pigs were delighted. so clean. we had rabbits, cows etc. cows for meat. i dont eat much meat, i hate animals being killed but understand the process. i could not have raised them for killing. i cringed reading the rabbit killing. i have small garden where i live near beach with cats that eat parsley. i have tyres with tomatos, potatoes celery, lettuces etc. amazing what you can produce on small gardens. we have huge push lately here in new zealand for home gardens, due to high prices, petrol, produce costs and lots of people opting for fresh. i want chickens but think the cats will not be happy (are cats ever happy????). i loved your book and look forwarding to hearing your blog.
    new zealand

  121. please put me on your mailing list

  122. stacey"goat girl"

    i am currently reading your book”farm city” love it. i am looking forward to your lecture on thursday at the Alameda library. I have acquired a grant to turn my ranch into a hands on farm for innercity children to come and be a part of what farming is realy about,and have hands on experience from growing food to milking a dairy goat. I would like to have you on hand as a resource on this progect. I love what you are doing.

  123. Read about your recent tribulations, and just wanted to say illegitamus non carborundum. I saw a video about you a while ago, and you totally inspired me. I live in Tucson, bought a house a year ago, and have big plans for my backyard. So far, I’m only working on a vegetable garden, but I eventually chickens, fruit trees, rabbits and maybe even goats. You have inspired lots of people, and your influence is more than you imagine. Keep up the good work!

  124. Aargh, Novella–I think I just called you Nigella, so sorry. Yeah, you’ll be wantin’ my advice all right…. 😡

  125. Novella – read about your trouble with the city. There are many of us who are touched and inspired by your life, and want to help you now. Please consider setting up a way for us to donate to the farm – maybe Paypal? And please add me to your mailing list.

  126. Hi Novella (and other readers of her blog)

    My bf and I just finished your book. Thanks for the inspirational read! If you’re interested, I wrote about you and your book on my blog where I write about our garden / small-scale farm projects here in Burlington, VT.

    Keep up the great work and good luck fighting the confusing city ordinances!


  127. Novella,
    I just finished your book, and I am inspired! I have been trying to convince myself that people really can become self-sufficient, and you have given me the courage that I need! I ordered The Encyclopedia of Country Living this morning, and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I have already taken on making my own bread (without a breadmaker), and I have learned how to knit. You are my new hero!

  128. Julie Minnick

    Hello Novella,
    Just read your book for my book club and will discuss this wednesday in Pleasanton CA. Wow, great reading and inspirational information. Just wanted to let you know that your book FARM CITY is out and about with high recomendations for readers all around. With the economic slump it gives us courage to see someone’s journey pushing forward… May 2011

  129. hi,
    I love your book i’ve read it about a million times and I still want to read it again you should write another book. how many animals do you have I have 23 and I live in the bay area too. I live near palo alto it is Awesome

  130. I picked up a copy of your book at a bookstore on Haight Street SF on a recent holiday from Australia. I loved it and enjoyed the bond of similar emotional highs and lows of farming shared all over the world. Some things really are the same whether you are in Sydney or Oakland, it all comes down to being the same “people”. I left my urban farm to visit the SF city but reading your book was a literary escape (or return) to farm life. Thanks for the literary side-trips you gave me while I was in the States. Be encouraged Novella, your efforts are never in vain, regardless of how annoyingly frustrating they may be. I’m looking forward to more of your blog posts and if you’re ever looking for somewhere to park your butt in Australia be sure to give me a call. Cheers.

  131. I just finished Farm City and loved it. Thanks for such an entertaining and inspiring read. If I ever find myself in the Bay Area, I hope it is on a day that that your farm is open to visitors. I would love my two girls (5 and 3) to meet you.

  132. Hello Novella,
    I am a member of a book club which has been meeting for longer then I have been drawing breath. We are comprised of several guys who are hopelessly outnumbered by several dozen retired english teachers who can no longer abuse their students. And in their dotage, they try out new recipes and read books. Most have their own gardens and abuse their tomato plants.
    We will be meeting at my house on October 18th at 6:30PM and eating the extraordinary potluck and talking about your book, Farm City. I would love for you to come by, imbibe in the extraordinary potluck, and say a few words about your book. You can bring your significant other or whoever you like. We would love to have you over. I am certain that your status as visiting celebrity author would awe the biddies into stunned silence. I could even give you a ride. So…What do you say?
    David Lehrer

    you like. I can give you a ride, if you like as I believe we live not too far apart. .

  133. It will take courage to lead an existence. Any life.

  134. Does your forthcoming book cover the use of vacant lots? What do lots cost in your ‘hood?

    What vegetables will you grow this winter and when will you plant them? Unfortunately the winter rain comes after the days become short.

  135. Hello. We are visiting Oakland and would like to stop by if possible. Staying in Berkeley. Or if you have any events this wknd.


  136. I am opening a restaurant in Oakland and would love to buy produce from some of the local urban farmer. How can I do this. Where can I find a list or directory HELP

  137. Hi Novella!
    I read your book about your city farm right now and love it:-) I am a vegetarian, but it´s abolute okey for me that you eat animals.*g* You wrote in such a great style and you love animals and you have respect. I think when I would eat meat then only from farms…then I can be sure that the animals had a good life! I think I will folow your blog now:-)
    Take good care!
    Best wishes from Germany

  138. Cailin Murray Boyd

    Hi, I am teaching a class on rurality and urbanity in America (I am an anthropologist) and we are collapsing the urban/rural divide. I assigned Farm City and am loving reading it for a second time with my students. Will there be a sequel? I just think you are terrific!

  139. i have to write a 5 page essay on your book.
    thanks a lot

  140. also i’m bulimic and have to compare my “relationship with food” with your book which i obviously can’t do. and the essay is due tomorrow and i’m on the intro paragraph. thanks for making me fail english
    at the very least can someone help me find the quote about people growing things in sidewalks?

  141. I’m finishing up “Farm City” right now, and have to admit that it all seems a bit intimidating starting a garden. This is my second year, and their have been many trials, but someday I hope I can dig deep and have a real urban farm like yours. And since I started reading your book I’ve been inspired to look for food in the least likely (to urban dweller) spaces, like city parks. I’ve found all kinds of wild foods like mulberry trees, rasberry bushes, and even some wild dill. But I’ve also dug a little deeper into understanding the history of the land I live on. For instance, the neighborhood I live in was once farmland, which is common with most of the land in Chicago. I hope you make it out the windy-city someday.

  142. I so enjoyed your book! I just returned it to the library today but before that I poured over your list in the back and made my winter reading list. I confess I’m a lazy gardener. I should work harder: to can, to preserve and root cellar but I don’t. I do freeze though! You may have inspired me to kick it up a notch. I’m thinking of having some rabbits. Not for food but for fertilizer and pets for my boys. I grew up with rabbits for that purpose and my mother had the best garden. Thanks again!

  143. Novella
    Thanks for a great read (Farm City). I will be following your blog from Edmonton, Canada & look forward to baby! I’d like to see more pics of your garden (garden porn as we call it here – given our yearly 6 months snow).

  144. Hi Novella, all the way from Perth, Western Australia. A group of us are reading Farm City at the moment, and I just wanted to say Thanks, for the inspiration, persperation, and the love that something like this takes. Can’t wait til my own suburban farm is up and running as successfully as yours.

  145. Hey Novella, Just found your blog today, rather by accident! I totally loved Farm City and if I’d known you had a blog I would’ve been here a long time ago (out of all the books I’ve read in that genre, which is like 6 or 7, yours if my favorite to tell others about)! Anyways, I just read about the snails on F&W and can’t wait to find some in my garden…. although they’d be happy if I didn’t find them! Thanks for the great tip:)

  146. Hi Novella,
    I just read your book “Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer.” LOVED IT! I want to get several copies to give out. More importantly though, I am re-energized and encouraged by your book and your experiences. I have been experiencing gardening stagnation and thus I have been neglecting the whole thing. After reading your book, I am inspired. I am inspired by your ingenuity, your perseverance and quite frankly by some of your failures. I routinely fail at parts of my garden, but overall keep it together. I guess it’s all in the BIG picture of enjoying your garden and staying enthused. Glad I found your blog and I will be checking my library for some of the works you cited in your book. Take care! Lisa

  147. brian palmer

    Hello Novella, I first heard about you yesterday (09/07/2013) so don’t know much about what you’ve been up to these last few years, however, what i do know now is very heartening, and it seems you have quite a significant following from many, who like yourself, are ‘Getting out there and doin it!), i wish you continued success with your endeavors, ‘live long and prosper’

  148. Stella(Ye rin,Woo)

    i’m korean, 19 years old, i read your book many times.
    I think it’s wonderful and very very funny book!
    It leads me to be interested to environment problem.
    and now when i should consider my life’s way,
    i want to be a person like you.
    But i don’t know what is the best major for learning about environment.
    Isn’t major important?
    I also really love practicing in real life.

    In present Korea, it’ll be hard to make farm like you,
    but i’ll try it. i really look forward eating my chicken’s organic eggs.
    thanks to you, i have a dream.^ㅇ^

    My English is not so good, and writing is also bad,
    but i wish my true thankful feelings will be conveyed.
    See you.

  149. Hey Novella,
    I really enjoyed your book. It was a real treat and brightened my week. Thanks for keeping it real!

  150. Sophy Burleigh

    My lovely cousin Alec Scott sent me ‘Farm City’. Brilliant, I love what you are doing and also how much pleasure you get and are bringing to your neighbourhood. I empathised totally with your pig story-we have a very smallholding in West Dorset, on the South coast in England, and when the pigs get big, they do get scary! I am not much of a grower- we have a few raised beds, but we mainly do home grown meat- sheep; 2 beef cows every two years; one for us and the other to cover the costs; chickens and we buy a home reared pig from our neighbour to cure whenever we can store it. They all get to an age and size when we think-“You are no longer cuddly, you are dinner on the hoof!” They are loved, respected, named and delicious! Luckily for our vege habit, many of our neighbours are smallholders and vege producers. The companionship of sharing and bartering for food and labour has created a vibrant and supportive network. Thanks for sharing!

  151. Hey Novella, I heard about your farm while researching on the internet. My name is Jack, I’m from South Dakota Ill be in Oakland for a few days visiting family before I meet up with my girlfriend to head down to Santa Barbara where we are taking a PDC course at Quail Springs. I was was wondering if you had some chores for me to do if I could stop by and see the place. Also, if you have some contacts or know of places I should check out, that would be awesome. I hope to here back.

  152. Hello! My name is Megan and I live in ghost town and I am an americorps member. I was wondering I I could connect to you and organize for the students I work with or my fellow americorps members to hold a work party there. Please let me know.

  153. My name is Aishah (age19)and I have read your book in my english class last November. Now I am a tutor for my old english class and they are reading Farm city too. We never got a chance to reach out to you last time so I told me teacher that i would make the effort to contact you. I was wondering if you do tours of your garden or do things where we can talk to you and ask questions. I wanted my peers to get to know you and visualize the book more if they were there so that it can motivate them with ideas for their essays. Your story brought back a lot of memories of my childhood in Berkeley and how i got the opportunity to grow and eat my crops. A Lot of kids in my class never had the experience so i thought that would be and interesting thing to talk about if we are able to meet with you. If not could you recommend us to any other urban farmers?(even though i would prefer you) Me and my siblings went to schools Le’Conte and Willard in Berkeley when we were younger and they hard free food programs and classes called “Farm &Garden where we learned to take care of animals, learn life science and plant& eat crops. Please let know when you can if you are able to set up any visits or something relating to the topic of farming. If you are not able it is okay
    Thank you 🙂

  154. What excersizes deliver you get rid of belly body weight?

  155. I started writing a book, and I wanted to put the chapters of the book on a different blog then my other less thrilling post. I don’t know how to, though,.

  156. Hi Novella, I want to preface this message first with saying that I believe you are wonderful and what you do is great. I was required to read your book for a course and within the class discussion we were critical of the concepts of urban agriculture, community and specifically in Oakland their intersection with race. An idea that came up, from me, was your role in the overall gentrification of the Oakland community. I wanted to message you to see how you felt about this. What do you believe your role is or do you believe you and your farm have a role in the gentricocation process?

    Thank you
    -Erica Oliner

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