Best Hippie

Novella Carpenter

Novella Carpenter prides herself on making fun of hippies, not being one. Her mom and pop were back-to-the-land types who raised her in small towns in the rural northwest. Carpenter, however, prefers immersing herself in the culture, not escaping it, and her middle-of-downtown Oakland residence and backyard farm is a testament to her beliefs. Chickens, rabbits, Nigerian dwarf goats, and two beehives share her space. She turned an abandoned lot next door into her vegetable garden too, because, “We’re too far removed from our food sources,” she says. One of the owners of Biofuel Oasis, a seller of biodiesel fuel, Carpenter served as assistant to Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma, Botany of Desire) while earning her master’s degree in journalism. Now a freelance journalist and avid blogger, Carpenter’s written a memoir for Penguin Press about her urban Oakland farm. Despite her protests, Novella probably knows that her back-to-the-land lifestyle is carrying on her parents’ counterculture legacy. But a lot has changed; this isn’t your mother’s movement anymore. Novella’s version 2-dot-0: extreme, punk, very urban. She’s tuning in, turning on, and dropping off fresh lettuce, eggs, and honey for her neighbors.


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