Monday, November 9, 2009

An Icon in Urban Farming - Coming to Maine

A couple of years ago, when I was full into my quest for other people who had successfully farmed a small piece (less than an acre) of land, I found Novella Carpenter. It was an interesting coincident that when I happened upon her blog I was knee-deep in the One Local Summer challenge, and she was challenging herself to eat just from what she had managed to grow on her land for an entire month. I had considered doing something similar (I still might ;).

I was hooked, and I've been a HUGE fan of hers ever since.

What I love about Novella is her matter-of-fact way of presenting her story. She makes no apologies for her lifestyle. She raises pigs, rabbits, turkeys, and chickens, which she eats, and she doesn't try to sugar-coat it so as not to offend the masses. She says, in essence, prey animals have eyes on the sides of their heads. Predators have eyes looking front. *We* are predators.

But at the same time, she's not trying to convert anyone. Her story is *her* story, and she does what she does because it's how *she* wants to live. She farms her property and raises her own animals, because she cares about them, about the environment (she also runs a biodiesel station), about the earth, and in her tiny corner, she is trying to make a difference by living more closely with her food. When Colin Beaven started his project, she commented that the year-long experiment he was attempting was her every day life. Of course, she says it with a lot more panache and humor than I can muster ;).

Of all of the urban/suburban homesteader blogger/authors out there, I have the most respect for her. And she's funny, too, which makes reading her writing so much more pleasurable ... and further, she knows her stuff, but she doesn't make me feel like a total moron, because I'm a novice.

As luck would have it, I'm going to get the chance to meet her. Novella Carpenter is coming to Maine for a book signing tour. I haven't read her book, yet. It has been on my wish-list for a while, but I haven't taken the opportunity to order it, and I won't, now, because I plan to pick up my copy at the Independent bookstore where she will be giving her talk in Portland, and then, I'll have her sign it while I prattle on and on about how great I think she is, and then she starts to wonder about the wisdom of her decision to come to Maine ;).

If you're in the area on Saturday, November 14 between 1:00 and 3:00, stop by Rabelais Bookstore at 86 Middle Street. I've read her blog, I've seen her interviews - if she's half as funny in person as she is in either of those places, you won't be disappointed.


  1. I've been to Rabelais! And I loved it, not least of all because it's just down the street from Duck Fat. Bookworm-foodie heaven!

    Funny thing here...I've met Novella and even worked with her briefly. She probably wouldn't remember me by name, though if she saw me she'd probably wonder why I looked familiar. We worked at the now defunct Cody's Books in Berkeley. At the time however I only knew her as a biodiesel operative and fellow reader, not as an urban farmer. She's every bit as cool in person as she comes off through the written word. Have fun meeting her!

  2. I will be there! And I can give you your books then!