Oakland, CA urban farmer Novella Carpenter – author of the book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer – has just been told by the Oakland Planning Department that her weekly farmstand, which operates on a suggested donation basis, is illegal. She will have to apply for a permit, which costs $2500, to continue using her formerly vacant lot as a farm and to sell the vegetables and meat that she raises. The full story is over here on her blog, Ghost Town Farm.
I haven’t read Novella’s book (it’s on my list, of course), but I looked at her page of published work and clicked on the interesting-titled essay, Why I Pick Lettuce For The Black Panthers (published in Salon in 2007). It’s a well-written piece, a bit of a backlash against the image of sustainable food advocates as privileged elitists, and discusses her opinion that the kids in her neighborhood who subsist on junk food deserve fresh vegetables and salad too. Oakland can be a tough place to live, and it sounds like Novella’s part of town isn’t one of the best areas.
I admire her tenaciousness and determination, and I sincerely hope that things are worked out soon. It sounds like the city’s laws may be changing in only a few weeks, so perhaps things will all come out fine in the end…but, really, who needs this kind of problem? And wouldn’t you think that the City of Oakland has better things to do than chasing after chard?
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