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Novella Carpenter

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Novella Carpenter
Carpenter speaking at Hayward Public Library in October 2014
Carpenter speaking at Hayward Public Library in October 2014
OccupationJournalist, Urban Farmer
Notable works- Don't Jump! The Northwest Winter Blues Survival Guide (2002)
- Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (2009)
- The Essential Urban Farmer (2011)
- Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild (2014)

Novella Carpenter is the author of the 2009 memoir Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. The book describes her extensive garden in Ghost Town, a run-down neighborhood about a mile from downtown Oakland, California.[1][2] Farm City was listed by some reviewers as one of the top books of 2009,[3][4] and it was the 2014 selection of the Marin County Free Library, City Public Libraries of Marin County and Dominican University of California "One Book One Marin" reading program.[5]


Carpenter studied biology and English at the University of Washington and graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley where she studied with Michael Pollan.[6] She has written for Mother Jones, Salon, and SF Gate. She is also the co-author (with Traci Vogel) of Don't Jump! The Northwest Winter Blues Survival Guide, published in 2002 by Sasquatch Books.[7] She is currently (2017) an adjunct professor of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco, teaching urban agriculture and writing in the university's College of Arts and Sciences.[8]

In March 2011, the City of Oakland told Carpenter she would have to close her Ghost Town Farm because she was selling excess produce without a permit.[9] In April 2011, after an extensive debate that prompted officials' review of the city's policies regarding urban farming,[10] Carpenter was granted a Minor Conditional Use Permit for her 4,500-square-foot urban residential plot, allowing her to keep more than 40 animals, including ducks, chickens, rabbits, pigs, and goats.[11]

Carpenter's "how-to" guide for urban farmers, The Essential Urban Farmer, co-authored with Willow Rosenthal, was released by Penguin Press on December 27, 2011.[12] A memoir, Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild, released on June 12, 2014, also by Penguin Press,[13][14] was selected as a Library Journal Best Book of 2014 and a Northern California Book Award Nominee for Best Creative Nonfiction of 2014.[15]


  1. ^ Garner, Dwight (2009-06-12). "Living Off the Land, Surrounded by Asphalt". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Bill Lueders: "Meet Novella Carpenter, Writer, Farmer, Eater.", The Progressive magazine, July 15 2013, https://progressive.org/magazine/meet-novella-carpenter-writer-farmer-eater./, posted August 19, 2016; accessed 2 Feb 2023.
  3. ^ "Best Books of 2009: The Complete List". NPR. 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  4. ^ "Dwight Garner's Top 10 Books of 2009 - The New York Times". The New York Times. 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  5. ^ "One Book One Marin | Read Discuss Build Community". Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  6. ^ "Farm City, Novella Carpenter, (9781594202216) Hardcover - Barnes & Noble". Search.barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
  7. ^ "Don't Jump!: The Northwest Winter Blues Survival Guide". Goodreads. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  8. ^ University of San Francisco: Faculty, https://www.usfca.edu/arts-sciences/undergraduate-programs/environmental-studies/faculty, accessed December 29, 2017.
  9. ^ Kuruvila, Matthai (2011-03-31). "Oakland gardener questions need for permit to sell produce". Sfgate.com. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
  10. ^ Kuruvila, Matthai (2011-05-08). "Oakland urban farming prompts plan to redo rules". SFGATE. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  11. ^ James McWilliams: Backyard Butchery in the City, http://james-mcwilliams.com/?tag=novella-carpenter, June 7, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Essential Urban Farmer". Goodreads. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  13. ^ Mark Storer: "Author Novella Carpenter explains in Camarillo how she took up farming", Ventura County Star, http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/mar/24/author-explains-how-she-took-up-farming/, posted March 24, 2013.
  14. ^ Penguin Press: Summary of Gone Feral, release date June 12, 2014, 240 pp., ISBN 9781594204432, http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/1,,9781594204432,00.html, accessed 5 Jan 2014.
  15. ^ Carpenter, Novella (2014-06-12). Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-698-16378-2.

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