Oakland: Cracking Down on Farming?

According to police statistics, Oakland has the highest crime rate and slowest police response time of any major California city. In fact, the rate of violent crime in Oakland is more than twice the average rate of the top ten other California cities.

So naturally, Oakland has chosen to crack down on crime, starting with, yes, those dangerous urban farmers. In its wisdom, Oakland has in its sights not just any farmer, but Novella Carpenter, an urban farmer who’s brought national attention to the good side of life in our fair city (the kind of positive national attention that’s a rare commodity around here).

Author of “Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer,” (which Publishers Weekly called an “utterly enchanting book” and the New York Times called “…a consistently involving book that includes one of the purest expressions of happiness I’ve read in a while”), Carpenter has been growing food and raising barnyard animals on her patch of lawn in Oakland for ten years. But apparently someone complained about her animals (she keeps bees, chickens, and goats), and a “city guy” threatened her with a $5,000 fine, telling Carpenter that the city intended to “use me as an example,” as she explained on her blog.

An example of what? Of how stupidly the city of Oakland can treat someone who’s a bright spot in a town that’s otherwise (often unfairly) seen as nothing more than a dangerous, blighted outpost of our sister city across the Bay?

If you think the city of Oakland should have its priorities straightened out, and maybe re-think its threats against a national treasure in our very backyard, please take a moment to send a quick email message to Mayor Jean Quan.