Matthai Kuruvila
San Francisco Chronicle
April 1, 2011

Novella Carpenter took over a vacant lot on a hardscrabble corner of West Oakland eight years ago and turned it into a working farm of vegetables, goats, rabbits and, sometimes, pigs.

Carpenter milked goats, made cheese and ate much of the produce. She also wrote a popular book, “Farm City,” about the experience and became an icon of the Bay Area’s urban farming movement.

But the future of her Ghost Town Farm is in question. This week, Oakland officials suggested it may need to close. The reason: She sells excess produce and needs a costly permit to do so.

“It seems ridiculous,” said Carpenter, 38. “I need a conditional use permit to sell chard?”

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