665 28th Street, Oakland, CA
In Farm City:
“And then there was the famous bean sower Henry David Thoreau. He didn’t own that land near Walden Pond or even rent it. ‘I enhanced the value of the land by squatting on it,’ he wrote in Walden. That was my plan too. I took a deep breath and plunged the little yellow seeds into the ground that was not mine.” Page 20
In Real Life:
Novella Carpenter conjures up Henry David Thoreau – who was also a squatter, of sorts – to get the nerve to plant seeds at what would become known as Ghost Town Farm. Only Thoreau was out in the forest on Walden Pond and Carpenter writes about pulling off the same thing in what looks to be a pretty mean section of Oakland. Of course, after reading Farm City, I had to go see for myself what she pulled off. I woke up early one morning and coaxd my husband into driving me over there. He looked at me and said – that’s a bad part of town. I said – I know – that’s why you’re going. We cruised by and checked out Carpenter’s apartment and the empty lot which is now what she calls her “farmlette.” Now if you want to check all that out – what you have to do is go there on what she calls an Open Farm Day – a day of instruction. Or, you can pop in when she’s selling her produce on a farm stand day. And there is also the possibility that if your group is large enough, you can email her and she will give you a tour.