It wasn’t until I read Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer for the second time that I really grasped the enormity of Novella Carpenter’s drive to prove herself as a farmer, which, at times she says, felt like “the mission of an imbecile.”
It’s hard to imagine a more unconventional – or difficult - way of carving out an existence for oneself: a squatter on land in an urban neighborhood that initially doesn’t feel safe. But it turns out the garbage strewn lot next to her apartment and Oakland’s “down and out qualities” are just right for Carpenter and her boyfriend, Bill, to put down roots of all kinds.
The rollicking good ride we get to go on with Carpenter includes massive slug extermination in which the slimy, primitive creatures are ripped in two and then squished between boards (this is organic gardening, after all), prolifically pooping poultry, bees, pigs, rabbits, dumpster diving and scrounged stuff from street corners. Carpenter possesses a love of making something useful again, which she describes as “resurrecting the abandoned.” The folks we meet come to life on the page: Lana (“anal spelled backwards”), monks, men that live in wheelless parked cars. The farm changes the neighborhood and the author. Against odds and convention, Carpenter not only exists, but she thrives.
I can’t wait to meet her this week!
~ Donna McClurkan, Reading Together Steering Committee
The topic of buying local food stuffs is not only a significant message of the Kalamazoo Reading Together book selections, but it is also an important message nation-wide.
This morning (4-3-14), on Good Morning America, celebrity chef Mario Batali prepared a meal that cost roughly $1.40 per serving while promoting the purchase of local food from area farmers’ markets. Here in the Kalamazoo area, we have some great ones. Here is a link to a complete listing.
So if you can’t plant your own garden or don’t have room for all of the wonderful fruits and vegetables that can thrive In Michigan, plan to visit one of the local markets!
~ Judy Bosshart, Reading Together Steering Committee
We’ve just received a lovely note from Tracie McMillan about her recent visit to Kalamazoo. Although Reading Together 2014 continues until mid-April, we want to share her sentiments with the community now, since many are presumably still digesting (get it?) their reactions to her compelling book, The American Way of Eating.
In the meantime, we still have three weeks of programs and several related community events left before Novella Carpenter comes to town on April 15-16. Check out the Events links to the right and mark your calendars now. See you there!
Dear Karen, Ann, & the rest of the Reading Together/KPL Crew,
Thank you again for organizing such a wonderful kick-off to your Reading Together series—and for including me in it. I had such wonderful conversation with everyone—from the lively Q&A at the high school to lunch at the Tap Room with your partners; from the high school student presentations to the live chat with the Kalamazoo Gazette. I truly was honored & delighted to be a part of it, and I’ll stop in & say hi on my next visit to Kzoo!
Tracie McMillan at KPL