Happy Paperback

It’s an honor to announce that The Penguin Press today released Farm City, the paperback!!!

It’s only $16, which makes it affordable for students and other scrappers (like me) who often can’t afford a hardcover book. I’ve heard that someties they just don’t print the paperback version, and that’s the end of the book. What a relief!

I’m also so happy when nice bloggers are still writing good things about Farm City.



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Holy crap–Farm City got nominated for a Northern California Book Award! Woot!!! Filed under food writing. I’m so honored. Cross your fingers.


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Farm City New Year’s Resolutions

I remember when I first signed my contract for Farm City. It was 2007, and I thought: holy crap, I have to wait two years before it comes out? Seemed like forever. The hardcover came out the summer of 2009, and it has been such a great ride. I’m so humbled and thankful for all the great reviews and accolades FC has earned this year. Below are my goals and new schedule for touring and events to support Farm City.

Paperback! What? Yup, it’s a gorgeous new cover which features a rooster, a brick wall, and more graffiti. Coming out May 25. We’re setting up the tour right now. So far, it’s looking like Baltimore, Philly, Washington D.C., and Austin. Two small goals for when I’m touring in these cities: Washington DC: meet Michelle Obama and check out their garden/apiary; Philly: be interviewed by Terry Gross (though it seems like girl only interviews celebs these days). In Baltimore, my only goal is to eat as much of their tasty seafood as possible. Please let me know if you’d like me to come to your town, and I’ll see what I can do…

Speaker’s Bureau. I’m signing up to be part of Penguin’s Speaker’s Bureau. The idea is they’ll book gigs for me on college campus and town libraries, so I can come talk about Farm City and urban farming. FC is also part of the offerings for the first book incoming college freshmen read, so they can bond. Why didn’t I have that back in the day?

New Schedule. I’ll post it on my schedule page, too, but here’s where I’ll be this next year (so far).

February 6. Berkeley Author Dinner Fundraiser for the Berkeley Public Library

February 12. Black Panther Commemorator fundraiser, Niebyl-Proctor Library

February 27. Morgan Hill Library reading.

March 13. Tucson Book Festival.

March 21. Raising Rabbits workshop, Biofuel Oasis

March 30. Bernal Heights Library reading (SF)

April 17-19. Fox City Book Festival, Wisconsin

April 29. Arlington, VA Public Reading

May 15. Shelton, WA, Write in the Woods; my hometown’s writing workshop!

More to come as the June paperback schedule solidifies…

And Finally…

New Book. Yup, there’s a new book–well, actually two, in the works. The first is a how-to manual for urban farmers, written by me and Willow Rosenthal; it’s due out February 2011. The other is another memoir but this time focusing on my father and wild things. Then I’ll finally stop writing memoirs, and start in on novels. Whew!


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New York Times Top 10!

Holy crap, what a wonderful post-thanksgiving gift, Farm City made the New York Times Favorite Gift Book list:


Dwight Garner, whoever you are, I love you.




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Austin Book Festival

Two vegetarians vs. Two meat eaters. Guess which side I was on? Yep, it was a good old fashioned Texas showdown!

As part of the amazing Texas Book Festival, I was invited to be on a panel moderated by the effusive and lovely Corby Kummer. My fellow panelists were Jimmy McWilliams, a professor and author of Just Food. He argues that local food isn’t all that good and that GM crops might be a boon for our society. He also thinks meat eating should cease. Effective immediately. Jonathan Safran Foer is the stellar novelist who recently published a book about his emotional and philosophical issues with meat eating. Finally, there was Jason Sheehan. A total card/character/really great columnist for Westword in Denver. He actually said, “if my customers like meat that was fed eagle eggs, then I’m serving it.” Even the wild west of Austin grew silent at this, then they laughed. Appropriate response.

ncjsfaustinThen there was me. Like ham in a man sandwich. In the end, I decided the JSF and I have more in common than most vegetarians and carnivores. The whole idea for me, is animal welfare. I want them to have a good life and then they will be more tasty. JSF maybe wants them to stop being tortured on factory farms. It’s not rocket science, he is right. If vegetarians and supporters of good meat could come together, things might just change.

The best part of the whole thing? We got to take over the House Chambers, a giant room where laws get made. I wondered out loud why the public and people like me were allowed to take over the Capitol for Book Fest every year. Turns out the Texas legislature only meets every other year. “If they met more often, they’d just make too many laws,” a young buck explained to me. Ha ha.

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I Heart Madison

I love Madison, Wisconsin! 

First of all, my dear friend and blogger, Kate, lives there. When I was first invited to come to Madison for the Book Festival, I imagined I would be bedding down at the local Motel 8. Luckily, Kate moved last month from Juneau to a charming apartment on the isthmus. And, she’s found work doing gardening. I spent one day with her deadheading, harvesting apples and kale, eating grapes, and weeding said grapes. We found lots of mushrooms while working. 

Second of all, Madison is a really cool town. Lots of cafes and bars. We had great food–crepes and coffee downtown, cheese from Fromagination, and foraged apples (Wisconsin apples are as good as those from Washington State). 

Third of all, the wonderful Lee of Pamplemousse Preserves. She came to my reading, introduced herself, and thrust jars of preserves into my hands. Oh my god, the tomato jam with nigella seeds is unbelievably good! We ended up spending time at her new cafe, Ironworks Cafe at the John Goodman Center, which is a neat new community center in Madison. Holy god, the fresh English muffins. Yummers. 

Finally, my reading at A Room of One’s One, was really fun. Packed room, lots of laughter, great intro from Robert Pierce of Growing Power Madison, Michelle Widgen, and an enthusiastic, food-obsessed audience. It was the first time an audience member asked me specific details about the meat curing process. And how lucky they are in Madison: the chilly temps are perfect for hanging meat at home. 

On my trip back to the airport, the cab driver told me he was reading Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. So he could compare Defoe’s experience with the Plague versus today’s Swine flu epidemic. Not your typical town….

P.S. I also traveled to Chicago and Milwaukee, mostly to meet farmers and see urban farms. As I tour around, I’ll be showing slides of stuff I saw at these particular farms.


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Fall Tour Update

My goal has been to travel around the US and meet my fellow urban farmers. I’m so glad that this October and November, I’ll be visiting many cities. Dates in italics are not yet filled, and I have added suggestions for places I want to go. If you live in one of those cities, drop a line, and we’ll see if I can spread out a little more.

October 5, Corte Madera, CA, Reading, Book Passages book store, 7pm

October 8, Madison, Wisconsin, Reading, Wisconsin Book Festival, A Room of One’s Own, at 307 W. Johnson Street, 5:30.

October 9, Chicago? Milwaukee?

October 10, Chicago? Milwaukee?

October 11, Detroit?

October 17, San Francisco, Reading, LitQuake at 18 Reasons, time TBA

October 18, Berkeley, CA, Chicken 101 class, Biofuel Oasis, 1441 Ashby Ave, 10-1pm (must pre-register)

October 19, Moscow, ID,  Reading, University of Idaho, Administration Building Auditorium, 7pm

October 20 & 21, Spokane, WA

October 24, Kansas City, Reading, venue TBA

October 25, Kansas City, Complete Chicken class, Bad Seed Farm 10am-1pm

October 31, Austin, Texas, The Complete Turkey class, 10-2, venue TBA

November 1, Austin, Texas, Austin Book Festival panelist, details TBA

November 10, New York, NY; New York Horticultural Society reading, time TBA

November 11, Providence?, RI, details TBA

November 12, Boston?, Mass, details TBA

November 13, Maine?, details TBA

November 14, 15, 16, 17 NYC?

November 21, Sacramento, CA, The Complete Chicken/Reading, details TBA

December 5, Berkeley, CA The Pasta Shop, 4th Street, 1-3pm

December 6, Lafayette, CA, Mt. Diablo Nursery, 10-12

Thank you everyone who helped organize this, especially Hamida!


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New Yorker

Someone emailed me a few days ago to tell me my book was mentioned in the New Yorker. I went to my unread stack of reading materials (it’s busy, prime farm time) and found the latest issue, and frantically found the following mention from Elizabeth Kolbert:

The basic setup of “No Impact Man” is, by this point, familiar. During the past few years, one book after another has organized itself around some nouveau-Thoreauvian conceit. This might consist of spending a month eating only food grown in an urban back yard, as in “Farm City” (2009), or a year eating food produced on a gentleman’s farm, as in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (2007). It might involve driving across the country on used cooking oil, as in “Greasy Rider” (2008), or giving up fossil fuels for goats, as in “Farewell, My Subaru” (2008).

Of course anyone who has read Farm City knows that it is more than a stunt. I’ve been farming in the city for over ten years! When I met with my editors, I was clear: I will not write this as if it all happened over one stunt year (it *is* their favorite literary device). Why? Because farming takes time. You learn things over years, not weeks or months. So I was really disappointed to be locked into the stunt year category. It’s true that there are a few chapters in Farm City devoted to telling the story of eating out of my farmlet exclusively for one month. I decided to include that stunt because almost everyone’s first question is: do you live off the products of your farm? Do you ever go to the grocery store? The idea of self-reliance is particularly American, and I think that is why so many people want to read books about survival stunts. By the end of my stunt month I discovered that the idea of self-sufficiency is a ruse. Like Kolbert points out at the end of her article, real environmental change won’t happen until we come together and work for change as a community.

As for my book, I hope Kolbert will take the time to read Farm City and see that urban farming is not just a stunt, it is a true life: and it is taking the country by storm.


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Readings this Week

Hey, just a reminder that if you haven’t seen my little dog and pony show, I’ll be at the following bookstores this week:

Thursday, July 30 at Pegasus on Shattuck in downtown Berkeley. I’m bringing honey and comb, hopefully! 7:30.

Sunday, August 2 at Reader’s Books in Sonoma, 130 E. Napa Street. I heard there’s going to be some yummy foodstuffs! 4pm

Can’t wait to meet you!

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So many wonderful people

I should really get off the farm more often. I’ve had a few lovely experiences recently while on book tour.

1. Copperfield’s reading in Sebastopol. There’s something lonely about showing up to a town, knowing no one, wandering around the park, wondering which part of the book I’ll read. But then I walked into the bookstore and the great staff were so welcoming and friendly, I immediately felt like I was with family. We had a small but eager crowd, and I set off reading and talking. Right before I got my spiel on, the mom and dad of Willow (a character in Farm City and my future co-author) showed up–with flowers! So adorable.

After I read some passages, everyone had great stories to share and I signed books and cut off tiny slices of my ever-shrinking prosciutto. One couple told me about a restaurant owner in Amsterdaam who is keeping two hogs in the back of the restaurant. The plate scrappings are collected and then pointedly carried through the dining area and out to the sty. Yes!

2. Back at the ranch, I have received some amazingingly generous gifts. A burdizzo! The goat castrating tool of my dreams. Thank you so much Art! A care package from some awesome ladies in LA. And yes, the bras fit, thank you. Someone else sent me a Target card, another a check for the farm. Gifts like these make me so happy and I feel blessed to be a writer who appeals to the generous.

3. I had the chance to meet a few really amazing photographers, too. One is Brown Cannon, who shot some really lovely photos of me and Chris at Eccolo, and on the farm. They will appear in August in the SFMag’s food issue. Another photo fella I met recently is Rob Howard. He kicks ass. After a long morning of shooting, we went out for Pho breakfast and talked travel. Look for his photos of me in the September issue of Popular Mechanics.

4. I cringe when I’m invited to do a tv show. I’m not photogenic, I have chin hair, and I have a problem with my sailor’s mouth. So I was grumpy when I headed to Hayward to shoot a live interview with Henry Tennebaum. I arrived uncaffienated and annoyed, I had to get up extra early to milk the goats. Henry was hilarious, with a John Water’s ‘stache and surrounded by Ms. Asia contestants. We ended up having a lot of fun. I have no idea how the show turned out. Same day I went to KGO in SF to be on Gene Burns–an AM radio show. He has one of those real radio guy voices and can read ad copy like a mo-fo. He was so sweet and had great questions, and frankly, I have a little crush on him now. Another great radio interview was with Sinday Roy with KPFA. He had really read the book and had insightful questions. Interestingly, Rose Aguilar is a raw food vegan, so maybe that’s why Sinday did the show?

Weird fact: many of the audience members of my readings have been vegan. At Green Arcade (god: their book selection is mind-blowing), a lovely vegan came up and we chatted for a long time about gardening and writing before she mentioned that she doesn’t eat meat. Now, how cool is that?

Anyway, all I’m saying is: life is surprising.

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