‘Farm City’ author talks farming, tech and more

Meghan Frick

Farm City author Novella Carpenter was a guest at three university events Thursday. Carpenter, who authored this year’s summer reading novel, spoke at convocation and a question and answer panel, and kicked off the Visiting Writers Series.

During the 2 p.m. panel questions came from four Appalachian professors and guest Russell Krumnow, coalition manager for the bipartisan organization Opportunity Nation.

Krumnow kicked off the panel, asking Carpenter what has happened since Farm City was released.

“I have my baby now and had some issues with the city of Oakland,” Carpenter said. “When my book first came out, vegans would read lines from my book over the complaint line, leading to the issue of overexposure. Also, I released my second book, The Essential Urban Farmer.”

History professor Michael Wade asked Carpenter how her childhood and education led up to her lifestyle choice — in the book, Carpenter describes her experiences as an urban farmer growing produce and raising animals in Oakland, Calif.

“My parents were part of the back-to-the-land movement of the late ’60s, so I remember those memories and wanted to make my own life, while not doing the same thing as my parents,” Carpenter said. “I wanted to live in the city where I can still eat burritos while being surrounded by farm animals.”

Associate psychology professor Amy Galloway asked the next question.

“What are you planning to do with your own daughter, in terms of introducing her to slaughtering animals?” Galloway said.

Carpenter said that, if children are introduced to the concept at a younger age, it will seem “less weird.”

“Once my daughter is introduced to it, hopefully we’ll get to go through the whole anatomy by processing a small animal, like a chicken,” she said. “Or maybe she will be grossed out and we’ll find something else to bond over.”

Krumnow asked Carpenter how technology relates to the nature movement.

“We call ourselves robo-hippies sometimes, because we’ll be on the iPhone while weeding,” she said. “Technology is great because our parents in the nature movement only had Mother Earth Magazine and now we have a wealth of resources. There is a real yearning to escape the life of too much staring at a screen. Farming is one of the ways you can sweat, get dirty and free yourself.”

Story: BLAKE LITAKER, Intern A&E Reporter