I’m working on my next column for Bookforum, which is about urban farmers (including one former drag queen named Aqua….stay tuned!). One of the books I’m reading is about a year old but it’s so good and interesting I’m including it anyway (plus it’s just out in paperback). Novella Carpenter’s Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer is about how she transformed a weedy, garbage-strewn abandoned lot behind her house in Oakland, CA, into an amazing farm complete with pigs, ducks, fruit trees, vegetables and a bee hive. You can learn more about Ghost Town Farm here, but meanwhile, on this glorious spring day, I want to share with you this awe-inspiring description of what she made from nothing. Oh, to live in California where the weather alone makes growing a Garden of Eden in your yard possible….
In our neighborhood, there was some greenery, mostly in the form of weeds. But when you walked through the gates into what I had started calling GhostTown Garden, it was like walking into a different world. There was a lime tree near the fence, sending out a perfume of citrus blossoms from its dark green leaves. Stalks of salvia and mint, artemesia and penstemon. The thistlelike leaves of artichokes glowed silver. Strawberry runners snaked underneath raspberry canes. Beds bristled with rows of fava beans, whose pea-like blossoms attracted chubby black bumblebees to their plunder. An apple tree sent out girlish pink blossoms. A passionfruit vine curled and weaved through the chain-link fence that surrounded the garden.