Bright lights, sustainable living

Book Review: 'The Urban Homestead'

My town, Oakland, Calif., claims to be the epicenter of the urban gardening movement. The urban part is pretty self-explanatory. What is surprising is that it’s an everyday occurrence to overhear conversations at Oakland neighborhood coffee shops about backyard beehives, chickens and goats.

Oakland ranks near the top of American cities when it comes to vegetable consumption. Wanna find the average 30-something Oaklander on a Saturday morning? Your best bet is the sprawling, certified-organic Grand Lake Farmers Market (though, admittedly, the popular Belgian waffle truck, the rotisserie chicken trailer and the knife sharpener stand are not, strictly speaking, organic "veg").

My home sits on a quarter-acre lot; standard in middle America, but massive in my city — and an intimidating prospect to consider planting. I’m also borderline-obsessed with the idea of growing what I eat, sustaining a home-grown, organic, plant-heavy, waste-light diet, all just a few miles from the financial district of San Francisco.