We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Farm City Audiobook

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

Regular Price:$24.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Audible Editor Reviews

When Novella Carpenter and her boyfriend decide to move to an apartment at the end of a street in a rough neighborhood in Oakland, California, they base their choice on the large and vacant lot next door. Already experienced with raising chickens, gardening, and keeping bees, Carpenter wants to take on a larger challenge: creating an urban farm. Farm City is a memoir chronicling her development of the vacant lot, the acquisition of livestock, and the rich and diverse characters that populate her new neighborhood.

Carpenter's voice comes through Karen White's narration as having matter-of-fact sensibility, dotted throughout the book with dry humor and a healthy sense of irony. Carpenter is constantly planning to take the operations of her farm a step further than the season before, starting with raising ducks and turkeys in addition to her chickens; but as much as she plans, something unexpected is always around the corner. White's narration at once reflects Carpenter's excitement and frustration at setbacks, as every project turns out to be something slightly other than what she bargained for.

As the narrative of Farm City unfolds, Carpenter routinely reflects on herself in relation to the tradition of farming, and it is clear she sees herself in line with both the people of the past who farmed out of necessity and writers and scholars who have written about man's connection with earth as an intellectual exercise. Instead of trying to obtain a novel and unique experience, Carpenter wants to see herself as part of a very human tradition, and White's voice commands authority when she quotes the people who have inspired Carpenter. As Carpenter describes her rationale for deciding to raise livestock for meat and the daunting task of butchering the animals herself; White is unflinching. She conveys a confidence that what may seem brutal about killing her livestock has been a mere fact of life for human beings up until recent decades, and her candid descriptions and frank tone force the listener to wonder why it's the idea of having one's own farm that seems strange, and not the fact that so few of us has any connection at all with what we eat every day. —Erin Ikeler

Publisher's Summary

Novella Carpenter loves cities - the culture, the crowds, the energy. At the same time, she can't shake the fact that she is the daughter of two back-to-the-land hippies who taught her to love nature and eat vegetables.

Ambivalent about repeating her parents' disastrous mistakes, yet drawn to the idea of backyard self-sufficiency, Carpenter decided that it might be possible to have it both ways: a homegrown vegetable plot as well as museums, bars, concerts, and a 24-hour convenience mart mere minutes away - especially when she moved to a ramshackle house in inner-city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door. She closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes, a beehive, and a chicken coop. What started out as a few egg-laying chickens led to turkeys, geese, and ducks. Soon, some rabbits joined the fun, then two 300-pound pigs. And no, these charming and eccentric animals weren't pets; she was a farmer, not a zookeeper. Novella was raising these animals for dinner.

Novella Carpenter's corner of downtown Oakland is populated by unforgettable characters. Lana (anal spelled backward, she reminds us) runs a speakeasy across the street and refuses to hurt even a fly, let alone condone raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Bobby, the homeless man who collects cars and car parts just outside the farm, is an invaluable neighborhood concierge. The turkeys, Harold and Maude, tend to escape on a daily basis to cavort with the prostitutes hanging around just off the highway nearby.

Every day on this strange and beautiful farm, urban meets rural in the most surprising ways. For anyone who has ever grown herbs on their windowsill or tomatoes on their fire escape, or who has obsessed over the offerings at the local farmers' market, Carpenter's story will capture your heart.

©2009 Novella Carpenter; (P)2009 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Utterly enchanting.... The juxtaposition of the farming life with inner-city grit...elevates it to the realm of the magical." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (323 )
5 star
 (133)
4 star
 (114)
3 star
 (53)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (7)
Overall
4.1 (234 )
5 star
 (103)
4 star
 (82)
3 star
 (34)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (8)
Story
4.3 (229 )
5 star
 (111)
4 star
 (84)
3 star
 (23)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Kindle Customer 10-18-16 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    28
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting"
    What did you love best about Farm City?

    Told the entire story, with all the worts. I thought this would be an urbanite who moves to the country -- no! They start a farm in an empty city block. Lots of information and well told.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Pepper 02-21-16
    M. Pepper 02-21-16 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    143
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really enjoyed the story"

    The fact that it's mostly true was neat. The narration was excellent. I'm just sorry there's not a sequel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Waynesville, OH, United States 08-30-13
    Karen Waynesville, OH, United States 08-30-13 Member Since 2011
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "awesome"
    What made the experience of listening to Farm City the most enjoyable?

    The reality, the fact that she actually carried out her dream in all odds


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Both her and her friend


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the pigs and dumpster diving


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I loved it very real and honestly sustainable


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of my favorite books, she is real I love the way she utilizes her resources and makes things work, how she reaches out to her readers and makes them feel comfortable about the farming experience. also she shares how you can be a farmer in less than optimal circumstances which is where I feel the strength of this book lies. hats off to you I would love to meet you!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 06-03-13
    06-03-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    172
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well Written."

    Both the author and the narrator transform what could be very dry material into an entertaining narrative. It's unfortunate that the author felt compelled to include two snarky, small-minded political references in the book. This aside, I recommend the book as food for thought & hopefully, a little backyard action.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-21-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    82
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I LOVE THIS BOOK.Refreshing, so different"
    If you could sum up Farm City in three words, what would they be?

    This lady is so strong willed, ready to take on anything for her tiny farm, and does a great job. I really enjoyed her animal antics, her with the pigs. and just funny ways of talking on and solving PROBLEMS that came up with her animals . I listened to it two times and will listen to it again, it is very refreshing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Her attitude about the people in her neighborhood.the way she loves her animals and the attitude when an animal has to be taken for food shows a great attitude and the follow through herself is statement to her character, I have a small farm and I totally understood her feelings
    .


    Which character – as performed by Karen White – was your favorite?

    Karen is anawesome she was my favorite, but hubby went along easy to whatever she whants


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, I did that. watng for more books from every year the adventure continues


    Any additional comments?

    Can be listen to many times , it's fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SoCalBonnie Southern California 11-10-12
    SoCalBonnie Southern California 11-10-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    175
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    160
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More enjoyable than Kingsolver's take on the topic"
    What made the experience of listening to Farm City the most enjoyable?

    I LOVE how Novella and her partner made use of materials that would've otherwise been tossed, and in doing so created something out of nothing. For some reason I find that quite exciting and really enjoyed this book. I also very much appreciated the revelation of her mistakes as well as her successes.


    What other book might you compare Farm City to and why?

    You can't help but compare it to Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral." I found this to be much less preachy, much more fun and in the end, a better learning experience. Much better narrated, too.


    Have you listened to any of Karen White’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I don't believe I've heard any of Karen White's performances before this, but she did a pretty good job.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    The only quibble I had with the author was her interaction with Sheila. Novella ignored so many obvious signals, and then proceeded to blame Sheila for doing what she clearly indicated she would do, no matter what Novella had requested.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Auckland, New Zealand 10-09-12
    Richard Auckland, New Zealand 10-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    11
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superbly interesting story"

    Although not someone I would normally choose to listen to, the story of Novella in Oakland, what animals she went though had me at times in tears of laughter and I learnt a great deal from her story! Before this story, I had considered keeping a Pig but no-way now! Bees are still a possibility.

    Karen's Oratory was superbly on target, it just had an air of authenticity that I've only ever heard from Bill Wallis, really made the trials and successes a joy to listen to!

    One of the best of this genre of audio books I have heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcel hate captchas Tacoma, WA, United States 09-17-12
    Marcel hate captchas Tacoma, WA, United States 09-17-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    22
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "have listened to entire book twice so far"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Farm City to be better than the print version?

    can listen better than can read these days


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Farm City?

    the bee keeping parts


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the bee keeping parts


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    enjoyable . educational

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy EUGENE, OR, United States 08-18-12
    Amy EUGENE, OR, United States 08-18-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    16
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inspirational"

    I liked the way the story was based in a city that I had lived in and was from a subculture in America that I am part of. Although I know alot of folks similar to the author and thought the book might be cliche or not so new to me, I ended up enjoying her stories alot and was inspired by the "anarchist" ways she went about farming in the city. I am inspired to raise rabbits (but not pigs) now - in my small urban plot. The only thing I didn't like was that the ending was vague and abrupt.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter 08-14-12
    Walter 08-14-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    74
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    411
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic story, lots of great info!"

    A great adventure in farming in the worst part of Oakland, CA. The adventures and misadventures of Nouvella Carpenter, hippy farmer are by turns touching and hilarious. Dumpster-diving to feed her pigs, hauling horse manure from farms outside the city, losing her geese and ducks to an opossum - all told from a singular point of view. Even if you're not as big a bleeding heart as Nouvella (and I'm not), there's lots of food for thought, along with stories of food for her neighbors.

    Nouvella's more than just a latter-day hippie farmer, though - along with lots of references to to the literature on farming, self-sufficiency, ecology and environmentalism, I caught mentions of Icarus and Nobel Prize laureate Maurice Maeterlinck.

    I'm a complete city-slicker, with more a black thumb than a green thumb, but this book is making me rethink a bit of how I live my life - and certainly making me change what I plan to read next. And to think I only got it on a whim, as $4.95 members-only special!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.