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Novella Carpenter, urban farmer-writer, to speak at CSUEB May 28


Novella Carpenter (Photo: Courtesy of Novella Carpenter)

  • April 17, 2013

Novella Carpenter – author of the 2009 memoir, “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer” – will discuss the history of sustainability in the United States as part of her lecture for the 2013 History Spring Speaker program Tuesday, May 28 at California State University, East Bay.

Carpenter’s presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Biella Room of the University Library on CSUEB’s Hayward Campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard. The campus community and the general public are invited to attend the presentation. Admission is free and Carpenter will sign copies of her book following her talk.

A writer and urban farmer who was raised by “back-to-the-land” parents in rural Idaho and Washington State, Carpenter will describe the building of Ghost Town, her farm located just west of downtown Oakland, as well as the difficulties of raising livestock in an urban environment. Her presentation at CSUEB is titled “Tapping the Urban Waste-stream: Abandoned Lot Gardening, Dumpster Diving, and Reclaiming Our Thrifty American Heritage.”

In addition to Farm City and the 2011 book, “The Essential Urban Farmer” co-authored with Willow Rosenthal, Carpenter has written articles and blogs for,, and Mother Jones magazine. She attended the University of Washington in Seattle.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times are among the media outlets to praise her memoir and other Carpenter writing projects, which also have earned plaudits from the academic community.

“Ms. Carpenter’s writing is relevant and engaging as it intertwines history with the contemporary story of the food justice movement,” said Linda Ivey, Cal State East Bay professor and History Department chair. “We hope that her talk will encourage CSUEB students to think creatively about the history of the Bay Area and future transformations possible in all of our lifestyles, our landscapes, and – not least of all – our eating habits.”

Michael Pollan, considered the dean of American food journalists and the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” commended Carpenter’s book.

“By turns edgy, moving and hilarious, Farm City marks the debut of a striking new voice in American writing,” Pollan said.

CSUEB’s History Spring Speaker program, celebrating its ninth anniversary, features talks on important trends and subjects in history as they relate to current affairs and is supported by contributions from the Friends of History. This year’s talk is also sponsored by CSUEB’s departments of Anthropology and the Geography and Environmental Studies, as well as by the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, and the College of Science.

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