In nature never will you find two snowflakes that are the same. From the time a snowflake starts falling, till the time it finally melts, a snow flake is very fragile. There are so many elements working against a snowflake it’s a miracle if it ever stays on the ground. Like the snowflake the American dream is equally unique and fragile. Under most circumstances both need the right conditions to flourish. You will never see it naturally snow on a hot summer day, but unlike the snowflake the American dream has exceptions, and a dream can flourish anywhere with enough determination. In the book Farm City the education of an Urban Farmer, we see a dream prosper in the most unlikely of places. We observe a woman named Novella carpenter, raised by hippies, and taught to grow food.
Novella has a dream to better understand the food she eats by growing and raising it in the most unlikely place, the Oakland ghetto. From 2005 to now, she builds her garden on the roof of an abandoned building and raises, ducks, bees, turkeys, geese, and pigs on her back porch. While she finds out the hardship of killing an animal you cared for and the disappointment of harvesting a crop to find pests instead of food, she never regrets any of her efforts towards her dream. Along the way she learns to not only understand her food, but also the people around her. The lesson here is that thru food and dreams you can unite and restore a community.
Cities aren’t usually associated with lush gardens and farm animals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t strive in this environment. Novella Carpenter is a woman who commits her time and way of life to provide an oasis of life in a dying community. Her dream is to better understand her food, while providing for herself and others around her. In her adventures she meets many different people, all willing to help her cause. She meets a homeless and ex-farmer who gives her advice and moves things. She also befriends a eccentric women who lives in a warehouse, loves all animals, and helps novella plant in her garden. Dumpster diving for animal food, she finds a wonderful cook that teaches her his secret recipes for cooking pig. Novella believes that everyone should have a right to take what they want from her garden because she wants to help unite and provide for others. To do this, she never locks her garden and gives various contributions to friends, family, strangers, and organizations found to help rebuild the community. Some might question the logic of the hard work of tending to a garden and the raising of animals just to let others take what they want. In relation to this, Novella states, “I could have hoarded all the food for myself- processed the tomatoes into cans and pickled the cucumbers.
I would have had a groaning cupboard of homemade food. But then I would have eaten alone.” Novella teaches us a powerful lesson in the need to give back and to never forget who you are. In her adventures as an urban farmer, Novella came across numerous obstacles. Unlike rural farmers novella’s garden is located on the roof of a vacant building. While the owner of the building is fine with the garden, if he has his wish and the building is transformed into condos, the garden will be evicted. Novella struggles with the fact that her garden could be destroyed at anytime. She sees her garden as an oasis in the ghost town that is ghetto Oakland. She doesn’t see the reasoning of having it demolished. Over time she realizes that the construction of the condos means that the town is starting to revive. She also comes to the realization that there have been many urban farmers in the past and once one is shut down, another always springs up in the ashes of the city somewhere.
This brings her hope that she can continue her garden elsewhere if she needs to. Just like any farmer novella has to deal with Mother Nature. She has to assassinate slugs to protect her plants, kill a raccoon that kills her ducks, and bury the corpse of a turkey massacred by junkyard dogs. At times she questions whose worse, her or the pests. On one side you have animals that are simply trying to survive, while she is simply caring for these creatures to kill them for the sake of knowing what it’s like and how they taste. She eventually gets over this by reasoning that it’s the burden of a farmer and she’s not killing them for selfish means, because she’s helping people around her. Novella’s struggles remind us that no matter what hardships you’re faced with, your dreams can always come alive again and there is no such thing as failure as long as you don’t forget them. Research Journey
When I was first asked to choose a book on the American dream I went to choose something that was important to me. One thing that’s important to me is agriculture and environmentalism. I choose the novel Farm city the Education of an Urban Farmer because I’ve never associated farming with anything urban before and I wanted to know more about it. Once I learned more about urban farming it started to really intrigue me. In the novel novella carpenter learns what an urban farmer really does. She brought people together, gave people comfort and hope, and got much closer to her food. After I finished the novel I decided to find out how urban farming impacts the world. My research question was: How is urban farming embedded into the American dream and is it still prevalent I researched seven different sources concerning my topic. These sources helped better my understanding of my topic. My research helped me understand how urban farming is important now and how it will continue to make an impact in the future.
The first piece of research I found was an article titled “Reaping Rewards of Farming in Buffalo” This article was published by Maki Becker. This article explains why people have taken up urban farming and the benefits of it. In recent years urban farming has been modernized and flourishing in cities all over the United States. There are numerous reasons for this. The author states in his article “ A small but growing group of people with a taste for local food, a passion for living sustainably and a devotion to ensuring everyone has access to healthy, affordable food has started urban farms in vacant lots.” This relates to my Research question which was: How is urban farming embedded into the American dream and is it still prevalent? It relates to it because it explains why people farm in the city and how people are ready to embrace urban agriculture. An example of this is the proposed green code. It is explained as “a total revamping of the city’s zoning ordinances”, it’s filled with provisions that could address an array of issues related to local food growing, form backyard beekeeping to selling homegrown produce. This is a huge step forward for urban farmers and shows how it has become more recognized. This research made me realize that urban farming is prevalent in today’s society and that it will continue to grow.
My second piece of research was a poem titled “The Flowers That Bloometh in The Urban Garden”. The poem was written by Francis Duggan. The poem compares the beauty of a garden in the city to a garden in the countryside. The point that Francis Duggan is trying to make is that a garden is just as beautiful in the city and people in the city also take pride in the beauty of nature. In the end he points out that “The flowers that bloometh in the urban garden make beautiful the little garden tree and blooming city garden too lovely as beautiful as you might wish to see.” This shows how urban farmers take pride in their gardens and in no way feel inferior to rural farmers because they know that a well tended garden is just as beautiful in the city as it is in the country. Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the beauty of nature. No matter where you live and how polluted your surrounding are you can always admire the beauty of well kept garden. The poem made be better understand my guided research question when it explained how urban farmers also know the beauty of nature just as well as rural farmers and that a well tended garden is always beautiful anywhere. My next source I found helpful was an art style used by Moose Benjamin Curtis.
He uses a new style of graffiti, rather than painting anything into the walls of the city, he scrubs it clean. He leaves beautiful and delicate patterns in some of the cities dirties surfaces. His floral images can be found in cities worldwide, making the world a little cleaner and more beautiful. This art style relates to urban farming perfectly. Just like the cleaning graffiti urban farming makes cities cleaner and much more beautiful. They both seem out of place in the city with all of the pollution but that’s the beauty of it. There’s nothing more beautiful than something as delicate as a plant or the absence of grime in the most unusual places. An additional source I found was an article titled “Urban Farming, a bit closer to the sun”. This article was published in 2009 by Marian Burros. This article helped me better understand my topic because it shows the pros and benefits of farming in the city, innovations that make farming more practical and beneficial. Farming in the sky in the green roof movement is a perfect example of an innovation the makes urban farming simple and immensely beneficial. This innovation encourages owners to replace blacktops on roofs with plants, often just carpets or succulents.
This is to cut down on storm runoff, insulate buildings, and moderate urban heat. A survey done by green roofs for healthy cities, which represents companies that create greet roofs, found the number of projects it has worked on in the United States grew by 35 percent last year. This shows how the interest for urban farming and a more green future has grown. People are starting to see how in the cities plant life and gardens are valuable and practical. A further source I researched was a media connection. I found a video on youtube.com that describes how urban farming can help people. This video it titled “Urban Farming – Taja Sevelle on Making a Difference”. It was uploaded on February of 2012. The video is about a woman named Taja Sevelle who starts the organization Urban Farming, to help people. She first started Urban Farming five years ago when she saw that there were people starving in the city and there were unused land and space that could grow food. She put her career as a singer on hold and became dedicated to help those in need of healthy food. In her efforts to help people, five years later her organization has set up around 55,000 gardens in cities across the United States. Her dream is to help people in need and she has done just that.
Her story shows how urban farming really can make a difference in our society today. Another article that I found useful was titled “The Victory Gardens of World War 2” It was posted in August of 2011 by Nick Carraway. It’s about how many people came together in America under the war effort and helped in any way they could. You might not be able to picture the city having many farms along the busy streets, and on the tops of buildings, but it wasn’t always so uncommon. In world war two there was a huge need for food and materials to send to the troops. Many products were rationed and food was overly expensive. It was logical to grow as much food as possible no matter where you live. Many grew food to send to the soldiers. These were called victory gardens. The whole nation was united as one in order to help in the war effort. The victory gardens could be anywhere and could range from any size. Official estimates are that by 1944 our victory gardens were producing almost half of all vegetables grown in the country and that at their peak over 20,000,000 such gardens were in action, with a total production of over a million tons of vegetables during the course of the war. This shows just how united the people were. The people in the city were no exception and grew as much food as they could.
Just like Novella, these people had a dream to give back and unite together to help a bigger cause. This article shows how powerful urban farming can become under the determination of a nation and that with more purpose, we can do it again. My final source that I found was an article titled “The Rise of Urban Farming”. It was published in August of 2010 by T. A. Frail. It’s about how urban farming has grown in the past few years and how it’s going to progress in the future. In his article T. A. Frail explains how urban farming is the response to a variety of pressures. These pressures include shortages of water and arable land. With a solution to these problems, Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, has proposed “vertical farming”: growing food- including fish and poultry- in urban buildings as tall as tall as 30 stories and covering a city block. Vertical farming would eliminate the need for soil by growing plants in a liquid or in the air. Water use and runoff would be reduced by recycling water in a closed irrigation system. Transportation costs would be close to none.
Such a high-rise- farm has not been built yet but it’s a sign that urban farming has a place in bettering the future. This article shows how important urban farming is now and how it will impact the future. Researching urban farming has really helped me to better understand Novella’s dream in Farm City the education of an Urban Farmer. I’ve learned a variety of facts about why people farm in the cities and what they get in return. I learned that no matter where you live you can always connect with nature and that a well kept garden is just as beautiful in the city as it on the countryside. After I read the novel I respected Novella’s dream to farm on squatted land, grow and raise her owe fruits, vegetables, and even meat, but I didn’t really see the realism in someone being a farmer in the city. After researching urban farming I found that it’s beneficial and essential in many ways. I also found out that it has modernized and it is continuing to evolve for the future. Not only has researching urban farming helped me understand Novella’s dream, but mine as well. I have been inspired by my research to be a little pickier to the food I consume and to grow my own garden, no matter how small. I’ve become more aware to the green movement around the county. Most importantly I have found the evidence that urban farming is extremely relevant and is currently evolving and growing in order to accommodate the future.
1. Burros, Marian. “Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun”. Nytimes.com. New York Times, 16 June, 2009. Web. 27 April, 2012
2. Becker, Maki. “Reaping Rewards of Farming in Buffalo”. Thebuffalonews.com. Buffalo News, 15 April, 20012. Web. 27 April, 20012
3. Moose, Benjamin Curtis. “Untitled”. Dothegreenthing.com. Do The Green Thing, 21 Nov. 2011. Web. 29 April, 20012
4. Duggan, Francis. “The Flowers That Bloometh in the Urban Garden”. Poemhunter.com.
Poem Hunter, 27 Feb. 2008. Web. 29 April, 20012
5. Carraway, Nick. “The Victory Gardens of World War 2”. Freerepublic.com. Free Republic, 26 July, 2011. Web. 30 April, 2012
6. Seville, Taja. “Urban Farming- Taja Seville on Making a Difference”. youtube.com. Blythe Raw, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 31 April, 2012
7. Frail, T. A. “The Rise of Urban Farming”. Smithsonianmag.com. Smithsonian,August 2010. Web 31 April, 2012