Overall, this is an enjoyable book; it is modish, in that more and more people living in cities want to connect in some way with more natural surroundings, but it is not a manual for the gardener or urban farmer. Instead, it is an account of someone who, raised in the countryside, wishes to make sense of and give value to, inner city living, escaping some of its harsher realities and achieve something that is, hopefully, life enhancing. Novella Carpenter's account is a struggle, not only to juggle a work / life balance, but one that encompasses growing food in what is a near hostile environment. She uses a seemingly abandoned lot next to her apartment and introduces to her appropriated garden plants and wildlife including bees, fowl, rabbits and latterly, a pair of heritage pigs, Clearing and planting, attempting to live exclusively from what she can produce, learning to kill and coping with the consequences of this most unnatural of acts - at least for the city dweller, are the subjects for this book that she describes with humanity and a degree of humour and a little despair, at times. Fattening her pigs, scrounging dumpsters for suitable waste to feed them, learning to make salumi - Italian fermented and preserved sausages and salamis - the joy of their produce, tempered somewhat by their slaughter and the whole meaning of producing food for subsistence is the summation of the book and what makes it so enjoyable to read. There is not a great deal for vegetarians, here, but it is, at least, honest in confronting what it actually means to eat meat that acknowledges a debt owed to the animals whose deaths are not taken lightly and might make you think the next time you pick up a vacuum pack from the supermarket meat counter.
This is quite an interesting account of the author's largely successful efforts at running a micro urban small holding in Oakland, California. It largely involves the fattening and killing of a range of animals: chickens, ducks, turkeys and - in most detail - a couple of pigs. Occasional characters in the locality have walk-on parts, but it is the author and her struggles with nature and bureaucracy that is the main focus of the book.