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Bestseller “Farm City” selected for Appalachian’s summer reading program


Carpenter_Novella_t.jpgBOONE—“Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer” has been selected for Appalachian State University’s Summer Reading Program for 2012.

The book chronicles journalist and author Novella Carpenter’s experience “farming” in downtown Oakland, Calif. Incoming freshmen at Appalachian will be encouraged to read the book as part of their orientation to the academic life of a university.

Carpenter will speak at the university’s Convocation in Sept. 6 and will open the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series held on campus.

Carpenter’s adventures in urban agriculture began with honeybees and a few chickens, then some turkeys until a vacant lot as turned into a thriving farm called Ghost Town Farm, complete with fruit trees, vegetables, hogs and livestock as she revisited the “back to the land” movement followed by her parents.

It’s Carpenter’s message of sustainability and service to others contained in the book that led to its selection.

“Novella Carpenter’s book blends powerful discussions about sustainable choices and about service to others with self-effacing humor,” said Dr. Emory Maiden, chairman of Appalachian’s Summer Reading Committee.

Maiden said the book lends itself to conversations into the ethics and the trials of farming in an urban landscape.

“Her story of the costs and rewards of becoming an urban farmer involves important questions about food and community,” Maiden said. “Carpenter suggests an understanding of food, its propagation and preparation that simultaneously grows a congruent and, perhaps, empowered self in relation to the earth and to other lives sharing the same ground.”

A child of back-to-the-land hippies, Carpenter grew up in rural Idaho and Washington State. She attended University of Washington in Seattle where she majored in biology and English. She studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for two years

“Appalachian has been a leader in sustainability for more than 20 years,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. “The opportunity to read ‘Farm City’ and learn about Carpenter’s adventure in growing her own food will allow freshmen to join the university community in important discussions and activities related to sustainability. These include the university’s focus on researching and developing alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind and biofuels; sustainable farming research and practices developed at the university’s Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm; the commitment by Food Services on campus to expand its use of locally produced foods; and the university’s expansion of alternative transportation options for students, faculty and staff.”

Carpenter’s writing has appeared in,, (and Mother Jones. Her book “The Essential Urban Farmer” was published recently by the Penguin Group.